Pawan Kalyan discusses Telangana Assembly elections seat-sharing with Amit Shah

The Jana Sena initially dithered about fighting the Telangana Assembly elections, but showed interest after BJP leaders visited Pawan Kalyan.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Oct 26, 2023 | 12:48 AMUpdatedOct 26, 2023 | 12:48 AM

File photos of Amit Shah and Pawan Kalyan.

Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan on Wednesday, 25 October, conferred with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on the sharing of Assembly seats in Telangana as part of their alliance.

Setting the tone for talks, Telangana BJP president G Kishan Reddy and BJP OBC Morcha national president Dr K Laxman called on Pawan Kalyan at his residence in Hyderabad on 18 October.

There, they broached the issue of fighting the Assembly elections in Telangana together to funnel the Andhra voters into the BJP-Jana Sena kitty.

The Jana Sena, which did not appear serious about fighting the Assembly elections in Telangana, began showing some interest after the BJP delegation called on him.

Related: BJP leaders meet Pawan Kalyan, seek support for Telangana polls

The seat-sharing agreement

On Wednesday, he rushed to Delhi on an invitation from Amit Shah. They are said to have gone the whole nine yards over which constituencies the BJP should fight and which ones the Jana Sena should.

This was done so that the electoral battle would apparently become mutually beneficial. They felt that seat-sharing between the two parties should be in such a way that it would help them consolidate their presence in the segments.

Interestingly, prior to Kishan Reddy and Laxman calling on him on 18 October, Pawan Kalyan gave a go-ahead to the Telangana unit of the Jana Sena to fight the elections without apparently consulting the BJP or the TDP, which is its poll partner in Andhra Pradesh.

Accordingly, the party released a list of 32 seats which it wanted to contest. They were mostly the seats where the TDP used to be strong in the past.

That meant there was a sizeable population of Andhras in these segments, with a fair sprinkling of Kammas, whose loyalty is always with the TDP.

The seats were in Hyderabad, Nalgonda and Khammam where the TDP has some presence even now.

The Telangana Jana Sena, while releasing the list of the seats it would be contesting, said that it may have an alliance with TDP at a later stage, and a decision on this was awaited from Pawan Kalyan. The Telangana leaders did not say anything about an alliance with the BJP.

According to analysts, the BJP moved in and sealed the deal with Pawan Kalyan even before the TDP took any decision on contesting the elections in Telangana.

Though Telangana TDP president Kasani Gnaneswar had said that the party would contest 87 seats, its leaders now say it is doubtful if it would contest the elections at all.

A source in Vijayawada said TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh has not issued any official statement on whether the party would contest the Assembly elections in Telangana. “Lokesh may take a decision in a couple of days,” the source said.

Related: Jana Sena to contest 32 seats in Telangana. But who will benefit?

The vote-bank equations

As most of the seats that Pawan Kalyan would be fighting in alliance with the BJP would be those where the kamma population would be high, it is doubtful if vote transfer would take place in favour of the BJP-Jana Sena, since the Kammas have a nagging doubt at the back of their mind that the arrest of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu could not have taken place without the blessings of the BJP’s top honchos in Delhi.

In such a case, the Kamma votes might go in favour of the Congress.

However, the presence of Kalyan, who is the TDP’s poll-ally in Andhra Pradesh, might give the impression that the BJP had nothing to do with Naidu’s arrest and wean the Kammas away from the Congress.

This time, it is widely felt that Andhras — mainly Kammas — may not vote for the incumbent BRS as they suspect Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is a close friend of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is their tormentor in Andhra Pradesh.

If the Jana Sena-BJP combo manages to obtain their votes, the BRS would likely to benefit from the spoils.

The issue of an alliance would figure once again when Amit Shah visits Hyderabad on 27 October to attend the IPS officers’ Deekshant parade at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy.

As he would have an interaction with the state BJP leadership, a broad picture of how many seats the BJP would offer Pawan Kalyan would emerge.

According to indications, the BJP wants Pawan Kalyan to contest seats which are close to the AP border, where there might be Andhra voters. Interestingly, these are the constituencies where the BJP has no or limited presence.