After his electoral tryst ending in disaster, actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan appears to be resetting his priorities and warming up to Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
The signals emerging from Kalyan’s camp suggest that his five-year-old Jana Sena Party (JSP) is likely to join hands with the TDP to take on the ruling YSR Congress Party in the upcoming municipal elections in Andhra Pradesh.
The 47-year-old star had slipped into a self-imposed hibernation after his party bombed in the April 11 elections. He lost both the Assembly seats – Bhimavaram and Gajuwaka – he contested while his party could win just one seat in the 175-member Assembly and drew blank in the Lok Sabha.
Also Read: Why Pawan Kalyan bombed at ballot box office
There are indications that he wants to reset the button on his brand of politics and gear up for a more aggressive role in the Opposition space. Sources close to the actor say that he is likely to revive the political understanding with the TDP to put up a joint fight against YSRCP.
After launching the Jana Sena Party in March 2014, the actor, who has a massive following among youth, remained largely inactive and reclusive for a long time. Barring a few public appearances in support of certain social causes, he kept himself busy with shooting assignments.
In the run-up to the 2014 elections, the actor had supported the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), saying he was a big fan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had even campaigned for the TDP-BJP combine, a factor that played a key role in the TDP coming to power in Andhra Pradesh.
However, he contested on his own in the 2019 elections, relying solely on his star appeal without investing time and resources on building the party organisation. His spectacular failure in electoral politics was reminiscent of his elder brother and Telugu cinema megastar Chiranjeevi’s political flop show nearly a decade ago. Interestingly, Chiranjeevi is now being wooed by the BJP which is looking for a foothold in Andhra Pradesh.
Also Read: Will Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi join BJP?
The post-poll reality check appears to have prompted Pawan Kalyan to look for an alliance to stay relevant in state politics. He has assured his fans that he would remain in active politics and fight for the people.
The only option before him now is to join hands with the TDP to check the domination of the YSRCP, which had swept the recent polls, bagging 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly and 22 out of the total 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh.
According to sources in both the parties, Naidu and Kalyan are likely to meet soon and discuss about a joint strategy to take on Jagan and also to boost the morale of their respective party cadre. There is also a growing realisation among the leaders of the two parties that Jagan cannot be defeated unless they came together.
They are likely to firm up an alliance for the civic polls, slated for next month. In the April 11 elections, the TDP had won 23 Assembly and three LS seats.
There was an expectation that the TDP and Jana Sena would fight the 2019 general election together but it did not happen. This resulted in a triangular contest where both the parties took a severe beating and the YSRCP pulled off a spectacular victory.
Contrary to expectations that the presence of Kalyan in the poll fray would lead to a split in the anti-incumbency vote and also Kapu vote base and benefit the TDP, the Jana Sena has played a spoil sport and damaged the prospects of the TDP.
An analysis of the voting pattern in the recent elections reveals that in at least 30 Assembly segments, spread over East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Visakhapatnam districts, the presence of Jana Sena adversely affected the TDP due to split in Kapu votes.
Overall, the Jana Sena managed to get 5.5% vote share. Its appeal was restricted to Kapu-dominated belt comprising East Godavari, West Godavari districts and parts of urban Visakhapatam.
It won from just one seat — Razole — out of 140 it contested. The party had fielded candidates in 18 LS seats but drew blank. It had an alliance with the BSP, CPI and CPI(M) and none of them could open their account.
Contrary to the expectations that the star who went to the polls promising to usher in “change and new age politics” would emerge as a kingmaker in a tight race between the TDP and YSRCP, however, the actor failed miserably.
Turning an editor
Meanwhile, the actor surprised his fans recently by announcing that he would take to journalism and launch a party magazine.
The proposed fortnightly would highlight people’s issues and espouse their cause.
According to sources close to the actor, the yet-to-titled magazine is likely to be launched in September this year and will carry a signed editorial from the Jana Sena president himself. In tone and content, the party mouthpiece will be hard-hitting and aggressive. “In all probability, the magazine will be on the lines of Shiv Sena’s Saamna,” the source said.
“I am not running away from politics. I will remain in the midst of people. I will become a journalist to work for people’s cause,” he told his close confidants.