The impact of “Powerstar” Pawan Kalyan on Telangana politics transcends the state’s borders. It is deeply intertwined with the neighboring state’s severely antagonistic politics.
In alliance with the BJP, the Jana Sena is running in the Telangana election on November 30. After issuing a list of the 32 seats it planned to field candidates for, the Jana Sena has begun negotiations. It is noteworthy that the actor and politician Pawan Kalyan’s party has decided to test its political mettle in Telangana, even if the precise number of seats it will contest, which is now between six and nine, has not been determined yet.
Why is the BJP so eager to include the Jana Sena in Telangana? Is the most important question. After all it is a political party with no presence in Telangana and interests in Andhra Pradesh. Furthermore, the Telugu Desam, the friendly party of the Jana Sena in Andhra Pradesh, chose not to participate in the Telangana election.
The rise of ‘Powerstar’ Pawan Kalyan in Telangana politics is not only a Telangana narrative; it is closely linked to the bitter politics of the neighboring state.
When compared to the pre-Karnataka election phase, the BJP’s political acceptability rating in Telangana has drastically decreased, and many leaders are leaving the party, giving the impression that it is now viewed as a distant third behind the Congress and the BRS. Therefore, part of the plan is to strengthen its position in constituencies where there is a significant population of Andhra Pradesh. These constituencies are mostly located in the districts of Nalgonda and Khammam, as well as in and around Hyderabad.
The first thing to do was to make sure that while Naidu was still in Rajahmundry Jail, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met with Nara Lokesh in New Delhi. Lokesh had thought that meeting with Shah would change the political landscape at home, but the BJP’s true objective in Telangana was to send a message to TDP members. It was desired for them to understand that it was unrelated to Naidu’s arrest or the cases against him.
Shah believed that by listening to Lokesh with compassion, the BJP would win over the settler voters. Third, BJP Telangana chairman Kishan Reddy disclosed that the Jana Sena had assisted his party in the December 2020 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, where the saffron party performed remarkably well and would welcome a rerun.
The next step was persuading the Jana Sena to run as an NDA ally in the Telangana election, which would force Pawan Kalyan to endorse the party. On November 7 in Hyderabad, Pawan is slated to share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the first of these gatherings. In addition to giving the BJP more access to Kalyan’s support base, this will make it more difficult for him to break away from the party in five months if the BJP continues to disapprove of his political alliance with the TDP.
What does Pawan Kalyan offer, though? Of course, there is a connection between his youth and his status as a hugely successful actor. Two, the BJP can leverage Munnuru Kapu’s appearance on the NDA campaign stage to gain support from the community, as he represents a sizable portion of the OBC vote in Telangana. Even more so after the BJP declared that Telangana would elect a chief minister from the BC (Backward class) if it won the state.
Naidu should guarantee that the Telangana TDP vote is moved to the NDA rather than the Congress. This is a brilliant political move since it will put Naidu and Pawan relationship to the test and might even strain it. The BJP can portray it as a betrayal and question how Naidu can expect Pawan’s support in Andhra Pradesh when he does not reciprocate in Telangana if the TDP supporters among the `settler’ population do not vote for the Jana Sena. Because of how Naidu left the NDA in 2018, the BJP has never felt comfortable with the Jana Sena conducting business with the TDP while it was a member of the NDA.
The greater concern is that a bad performance would turn the Jana Sena into a laughingstock in Andhra Pradesh, particularly given Pawan and Naidu’s shared goal of unseating the YSRCP in 2024.