Pawan Kalyan announces Jana Sena to contest 32 Assembly segments in Telangana. But who will benefit?

He said the seats the Jana Sena would be contesting are mainly in the jurisdiction of the GHMC, and the Nalgonda and Khammam districts.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Oct 03, 2023 | 7:08 PMUpdatedOct 03, 2023 | 9:06 PM

Pawan Kalyan

The announcement of Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan that his party would be in the fray in 32 Assembly segments in Telangana in the upcoming elections is raising questions about the real beneficiary of the move.

Even though he is poised to fight BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, he might end up splitting the anti-BRS votes that might have been raked up by the Congress.

The actor-politician claimed that the seats that the Jana Sena would be contesting were mainly in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Nalgonda, and Khammam districts.

These constituencies have Andhra voters in huge numbers who might vote for any party that is against KCR, provided it can challenge him at the hustings.

Also read: Pawan Kalyan predicts rout of Jagan’s ruling YSRCP in AP

A threat to KCR?

In the 2018 election, a majority of Andhra voters were believed to have voted for the BRS because there was no other party that could measure up to it. It was a party that was on the rise, poised to do an encore after its decisive victory in the 2014 elections.

The Congress was down in the dumps at that time. The TDP was languishing in history’s dustbin. The BJP was a non-starter. The coast was clear for KCR to capture power in Telangana for a second time.

He moved in for the big kill. His unrelenting extermination of the Congress continued even after elections. He spirited away two-thirds of the 19 Congress MLAs even as the party looked on helplessly.

But, analysts believe that a lot of water has flowed through the Musi since 2018. As KCR is struggling with a heavy load of anti-incumbency, he needs a very weak Opposition to help him win the election.

Everything seemed to be going in his favour as the Congress remained a lame duck till the results of the Karnataka Assembly elections came out.

The rub-off effect on Telangana came as an elixir for the Congress. The party woke up from its deep slumber and began looking every which way to retrieve lost ground.

Also read: Pawan Kalyan announces Jana Sena-TDP alliance for Andhra polls

Breaching Congress’ fortress

It is precisely at this stage that Pawan Kalyan has thrown his hat in the ring. After keeping quiet for several months, the maverick politician from Andhra Pradesh has announced his party would contest 32 Assembly constituencies in Telangana, where the grand old party is poised for a takeoff.

At a time when the Jana Sena cadres were not very sure whether their party would be in the fray in Telangana on account of the long silence of their leader, the announcement was a bolt from the blue.

They now have very little time to pull up their socks and run into the electoral bullring. But for whose benefit is this anyway? Political analysts say the Jana Sena, in alliance with the TDP, might be helping the BRS — the same party it will be fighting.

There is a growing perception that the Andhra voters might look for a party that has its roots in the Andhra soil if they are big enough to challenge KCR or at least be able to cause some pain to him.

The Jana Sena-TDP alliance is one option for those who want to root for an Andhra party or an Andhra political formation.

Another option is the Congress, though it is also “guilty” of gifting Telangana, but to a lesser degree compared to the BRS.

Also read: Telangana govt is a car controlled by someone else, says PM Modi

Helping KCR?

However, the Jana Sena-TDP alliance will unwittingly end up helping KCR once again. “It is no brainer to know who would benefit from the split,” said one analyst.

The half-hearted approach Pawan Kalyan has taken for Telangana elections is evident from a lack of preparation for the elections till now.

The mainstream political parties — the BRS, the Congress, and the BJP — are miles ahead in campaigning for the Assembly polls, for which notification is expected any day this month.

Pawan Kalyan arrives on the scene at this juncture. The new kid on the block is expected to tour the constituencies where the Jana Sena would be in the fray in his Varahi — a humvee-like vehicle from which he has been addressing crowds in Andhra Pradesh for quite some time now.

Though latecomers to campaigning in Telangana, his party men believe that their leader would be able to influence voters in Hyderabad, Nalgonda, and Khammam where voters with Andhra roots are significant in number.

Also read: BJP chief JP Nadda to visit Telangana to discuss poll strategies

Announcement and preparations

In an official press release, the party said on Monday, 2 October, that it would contest seats where it had a strong presence. In other words, these would be constituencies where people of Andhra origin were more in number.

The Jana Sena camp seems to be under the impression that Pawan Kalyan, with his Telugu Desam veneer, would be able to wean away Andhra voters who had in the last election voted for the BRS away from the Congress whose stars seem to be on the ascendency.

The party is banking on the support of fans of Pawan Kalyan and his elder brother film actor Chiranjeevi to put out a better performance in the state.

P Hari Prasad, political secretary to Pawan Kalyan, said: “In the 32 segments that the Jana Sena has decided to contest from, there is a strong following for Pawan Kalyan. We have organised various programmes for the benefit of the people. We are in a position to decide the outcome of the election in all the segments. Like we did in the Lok Sabha election for Malakgiri in 2019,” he said.

According to one political analyst, Pawan Kalyan is doing what he does not want to do in Andhra Pradesh, preventing the split in the Opposition vote.

“In Andhra Pradesh he wants an alliance with the BJP and the TDP to prevent a split of anti-YSRCP votes but, in Telangana, he is doing exactly the opposite, splitting the anti-KCR vote that should be going to the Congress this time,” he said.