The Jana Sena put up a decent fight only in the Kukatpalle segment, where it finished third, while in other seats, it performed poorly.
Mass fan following and on-screen popularity do not necessarily translate into votes. Telugu superstar-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan learnt this the hard way in the Telangana Assembly polls.
Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) drew a blank in the Telangana Assembly elections, with all its eight candidates losing their deposits despite being in alliance with BJP and the star himself campaigning for days.
The party put up a decent fight only in the Kukatpalle constituency, where it came third. In all other seats, the JSP’s performance was abysmal.
Incidentally, this was Jana Sena’s first Assembly election in Telangana, as the party has been focusing more on Andhra Pradesh. It fielded its candidates in alliance with the BJP.
The eight seats the JSP contested were Kukatpalle, Khammam, Kothagudum, Wyra, Aswaraopeta, Kodad, Nagarkurnool, and Tandur.
Incidentally, Kukatpalle and Khammam have a significant number of Andhra voters, and Pawan Kalyan was the sole Andhra face in the elections.
Yet the party candidates lost their deposits, which happens when a candidate gets less than one-sixth — or 16.67 percent — of the total votes polled in the segment they are contesting.
In Kukatpalle, the JSP’s Mummareddy Prem Kumar secured 39,830 votes, finishing third, while the sitting BRS MLA Madhavaram Krishna Rao retained the seat by defeating his nearest rival, Bandi Ramesh of the Congress, by a margin of over 70,380 votes.
In Khammam, JSP candidate Miryala Krishna Rao won 4,040 votes. The Congress’ Tummala Nageshwar Rao won the seat by a margin of 49,381 votes.
In Kothagudem, the JSP finished fourth with just 1,945 votes. The CPI’s Kunamneni Sambasiva Rao was the winner.
In Wyra, Ramdas Maloth of the Congress won by a margin of 33,045 votes, while the JSP candidate received 2,712 votes.
In Aswaraopeta, the JSP’s lone woman candidate Muyyaboina Uma Devi got 2,281 votes. Adinaryana Jane of the Congress won the seat by over 28,900 votes.
In Kodad, Mekala Sateesh Reddy of the JSP received 2,151 votes, while Nalamada Padmavathi Reddy of the Congress won by a margin of over 58,172 votes.
In Nagarkurnool, the JSP’s Vanga Laxman Goud received just 1,955 votes, whereas the Congress candidate Kuchakulla Rajesh Reddy secured the seat by a margin of 5,248 votes.
In Tandur, Nemuri Shankar Goud secured 4,087 votes, while B Manohar Reddy of the Congress secured a margin of 6,583 votes to defeat BRS’s Pilot Rohith Reddy.
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu decided not to field party candidates in Telangana due to the cases he has been facing in Andhra Pradesh.
While the ruling YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh has been distancing itself from Telangana politics since the 2014 elections, its chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s sister and YSRTP chief YS Sharmila did not contest this time, but supported the Congress.
Surprisingly, ever since Pawan Kalyan began his campaign in Telangana, there was not a single reference to the BRS government or the Congress. He spoke mostly about the Central government’s policies.
In Hyderabad, which has a significant population of people from Andhra, the BRS won eight seats while the AIMIM retained its seven seats.
The Pawan Kalyan magic failed in Telangana voters, and political circles opined that it could have an impact in the forthcoming Andhra Pradesh elections.
However, Prof K Nageshwar, a former MLC and senior political analyst, speaking to South First earlier, said Pawan Kalyan’s contest in alliance with the BJP in Telangana has to be seen from an Andhra perspective.
“First, he knows that his stakes are in Andhra, and he wants the BJP to join the anti-Jagan force. Second, he wants to signal to the TDP that he still has the option to leave, which helps him during seat-sharing and alliance talks in Andhra Pradesh. Third, campaigning alongside Modi has enhanced his stature and will also keep him politically relevant,” he said.