Pawan kalyan led Janasena is the cynosure of electoral battle in Andhra Pradesh not because it can turn tables in its favour, but, more due to its possible impact on the poll fortunes of either TDP or YSR Congress that are evenly placed in a do or die electoral battle.
The TDP won the 2014 mandate with a slender margin of around two percent indicating the influence of unconditional support of Pawan Kalyan on the mandate.
Pawan Kalyan voluntarily supported the TDP-BJP combine in 2014, without contesting anywhere. Thus, the TDP can’t afford to dismiss him easily.
Pawan Kalyan’s entry into the electoral fray certainly makes a difference in Andhra Pradesh politics, given his personal charisma. He has clearly distanced himself from the aborted Praja Rajyam experiment led by his brother, popular film star Chiranjeevi, who merged his party with the Congress after getting a substantial vote share in 2009. By not associating himself with the merger fiasco, Pawan Kalyan was able to preserve his personal and political identity untainted.
While Pawan Kalyan can’t be described as a leader of any particular social formation, he belongs to the Kapu community, which has a sizeable presence in 40-50 Assembly constituencies of the state. The Kapu factor was a critical component of the TDP’s success in 2014. A section of the Kapu population, especially the new and young voters, would certainly walk out of the TDP fold given Pawan Kalyan’s stand.
Whichever way things pan out, the Jana Sena’s political foray is bound to create tremors in Andhra Pradesh politics especially at a time when the gap between ruling and opposition parties is extremely narrow.
The Janasena given its poll prospects today may not even measure up to the vote and seat tally of Praja Rajyam Party(PRP). The Praja Rajyam fiasco continue to haunt Jana Sena. The two of the three major communities of Andhra Pradesh, Kammas and Reddys enjoy the proximity with corridors of power. The Kapus with its numerically strong in a significant number of constituencies were never in the centre of power apparatus. Though Chiranjeevi cannot be identified with any particular community , Kapus in 2009 largely rallied behind Chiranjeevi. But, this community and the fans of mega star were deeply led down by the actor turned politician. With a changed political idiom post bifurcation and Praja Rajyma fiasco staring at them, the kapus’ political loyalty shifted for the first time in 2014 to TDP. Now with Janasena not emerging as a decisive political force in the Andhra Pradesh electoral arena , this electorally significant community may not completely rally behind Janasena.
However, any shift in the Kapu vote can make a world of difference in many constituencies where their numbers are quite huge. The YSR congress hopes that this would make a dent in the TDP vote tally as Pawan Kalyan supported Chandrababu Naidu in 2014. Meanwhile, the TDP hopes that Janasena will cut into the anti establishment votes and benefit them more. The competitive claims of TDP and YSR Congress turn Jansena and its leader Pawan Kalyan into a kingmaker even before the vote is cast.
( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India