Actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan is moving quickly to outsmart both Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as far as pre-election strategy formation and political maneuvering are concerned. His is seen as a carefully calculated, smart move in walking an extra mile to personally meet BSP supremo Mayawati and convince her to join his Jana Sena Party and Left parties alliance in AP. He could not meet Mayawati eventually however, and there has been no word yet from any side on whether BSP is likely to oblige Pawan or not.
Pawan’s move came at a time when election analysts are seeing the Jana Sena and Left parties alliance as a weak combination, and not a convincing third alternative to the voters in 2019. If Pawan Kalyan achieves his goal to bring in BSP, then their alliance is certain to emerge as a powerful contender for power along with TDP and YSRCP.
Jana Sena is banking heavily on the polarisation of the Kapu caste vote bank in favour of Pawan Kalyan, who is also expected to get support from youth and his fans cutting across other castes as well, though in smaller percentages. On its part, BSP has got its presence among sections of dalits in every Assembly segment, and its candidates are polling votes despite the lack of a well-placed party machinery in the state.
In the 2014 elections, BSP got a 1% vote share in United AP, and it won two Assembly segments. CPI and CPI(M) got 0.5% and 0.8% votes respectively. They won one Assembly segment each. Analysts say that if BSP is in a winning combination, it will have greater impact in polarising dalit votes in its favour.
Seeing a huge potential, Pawan Kalyan has come forward on his own to win over BSP to their side. Moreover, Kapus and dalits are predominant in West Godavari and East Godavari districts, where a Jana Sena-BSP tie-up will change the election scene altogether. As of now, it is unclear whether Kapu-dalit votes will effectively polarise the scenario to benefit Jana Sena and BSP respectively if they contest separately. This is because voters tend to ignore parties that do not have a winning edge. Moreover, if Jana Sena and BSP contest separately, they are expected to just split votes that will affect the vote share of TDP and YSRCP – while neither Jana Sena nor BSP will win significantly themselves.
The two Godavari districts matter the most in AP elections as most Assembly segments are present here. There are 19 Assembly segments in East Godavari and 15 segments in West Godavari.
Foreseeing trouble from a future alliance between BSP and Jana Sena, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu made some quick moves and met Mayawati during his recent visit to Delhi. There was no report as to what exactly transpired between the duo, but analysts say that Naidu might have succeeded in stopping the likelihood of a Jana Sena-BSP alliance as of now.
Insiders say Pawan is committed to roping in Mayawati to make the going tough for rivals. His party commands wider support by virtue of his charisma and caste base. His brother Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party won 18 segments with 16.22% vote share in 2009. Most of this support of Chiranjeevi is expected to transfer to Pawan. Despite this better standing compared to BSP, Pawan went ahead and visited Lucknow personally to meet Mayawati. Political circles are watching this scenario with bated breath. Developments such as these are certain to make AP’s 2019 elections curiouser and more unpredictable.
Views expressed are the author's own.