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Visakhapatnam: What is film actor ‘Power Star’ and Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan up to? Is he keen on joining hands with former ally Telugu Desam Party of N. Chandrababu Naidu again?

There are indications he may prefer the stronger TDP to the BJP which has its presence only on paper in Andhra Pradesh as he is angling to defeat the ruling YSR Congress Party of YS Jaganmohan Reddy by hook or crook. The Power Star, who was found to be very soft during the TDP regime 2014-19, never questioned Chandrababu Naidu on his policies, the special category status, and the bifurcation promises nor the TDP’s love – hate politics with the BJP. He also never pointed a finger at the TDP when it failed to waive the promised farmers’ loans or assistance to DWCRA groups and did not question the package Chandrababu accepted in lieu of special category status and the Polavaram project funds and on the other hand, blamed BJP for offering the package.

And a shrewd Chandrababu Naidu, adept in manipulative politics, was quick in pacifying Pawan Kalyan whenever he raised an issue–like the kidney patients’ woes in Uddhanam of Srikakulam district. The TDP supremo was found winning back the film star with a blank cheque, accepting the latter’s suggestions and even initiating a little action that saw him mellow down completely. Obviously, the film star, who hoped to come out with an NT Rama Rao- like show in which his elder brother Chiranjeevi failed to succeed, envies the success of Jagan who is almost in the same age bracket.

He is found to toe the line of Chandrababu, who made it a point to criticise whatever the Jagan government did during the past three years, refusing to see the over Rs.1.4 lakh crore money which has directly gone to beneficiaries. The humiliating defeat of Pawan Kalyan in both the Assembly constituencies where he contested, added to his woes and strengthened his resolve to bring down the Jagan government. After all, he had taken his fan following granted and dreamed of becoming Chief Minister of AP in 2019 but received a drubbing at the hustings with just a solitary seat in a house of 175, much worse than Chiranjeevi who had managed to win 18 seats.

It was in this situation that Pawan Kalyan readily accepted alliance with BJP. However, the BJP, though strong at the national level, was never a force to reckon with in the State. The few seats which it won over the years was thanks due to the TDP. Whenever it forged an electoral alliance with the TDP, the BJP could succeed and in the absence of any such a pact, failed miserably, as was the case in 2019 polls when it drew blank.

Though it is a good idea that the trio of TDP, JSP and BJP come together to challenge the YSRCP in the state for better results, but as things stand the BJP would not like to be in the company of TDP which turned hostile towards it before the 2019 elections and even humiliated its leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah by greeting them with black balloons and black flags when they visited the state. The state BJP cadre is seething with anger at the TDP while on the other hand, its national leaders appear to be benevelontly disposed towards Jagan who had friendly meetings with them in Delhi.

It is exactly this factor which Pawan Kalyan and his political affairs committee chairman Nadendla Manohar seem to consider now. With the film actor repeatedly mentioning that his relations with the BJP at the national level were better than at the state level only betrays his feeling that the alliance partner is too weak to take on the YSR Congress Party which is well entrenched in the seat at present in Andhra Pradesh. In this background, Pawan Kalyan appears to lean towards the TDP and it may not come as a surprise if he decides to join hands with the TDP to fight the common enemy Jagan in the 2024 elections.

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Author: Howard Caldwell