On February 16, Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan released a press statement denying an alliance between YSR Congress headed by Jagan Mohan Reddy and the BJP. Though Pawan is not a member of either of these parties, he felt compelled to deny the speculation that started soon after CM Jagan met PM Modi on February 14. “The statements issued by YSRCP leaders have no truth. People should not misunderstand Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah by believing the YSRCP’s tricky words,” Pawan Kalyan said. This statement from the actor- politician came even before the BJP’s denial on the issue, Pawan Kalyan was surely in a hurry.
Despite forming an alliance with the BJP, Pawan Kalyan is still in a vulnerable position as there are rumours of BJP and YSRCP having a tacit understanding. Insiders say Pawan Kalyan threatened to pull out of the alliance if BJP got into any tacit understanding with the YSRCP. For Pawan Kalyan, an alliance with the BJP is a necessity, but another person like Jagan entering the equation would shadow him completely.
Jana Sena Party which made its electoral debut in 2019, is already facing an existential crisis, after the party faced a severe drubbing in Lok Sabha and assembly elections. The party which had contested from 138 constituencies could only win a single MLA seat from Razole, and Pawan Kalyan, the party chief who contested from two seats--Bhimavaram and Gajuwaka--suffered a humiliating defeat and lost from both the seats.
A year after the elections, the party is facing a huge crisis as several, including Pawan Kalyan’s friend and political mentor Raju Ravitej and VV Laxminarayana, former CBI Joint Director, have already deserted the party. For his political survival, Pawan Kalyan formed an alliance with the BJP earlier in January for the 2024 elections. Pawan said that the alliance was made to “protect the interests of the state and its people” and both the parties have since been fighting against the Jagan-led government’s decision to shift the capital from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam.
Although Pawan Kalyan had categorically stated that his party did not merge with the BJP and they just have an alliance, his actions contradict his political position.
Immediately, after forming alliance, unlike other BJP allies like Shiromani Akali Dal, Janata Dal (United), Lok Janshakti Party among the few parties who voiced out against National Register of Citizens and questioned the exclusion of Muslims from Citizenship Amendment Act, Pawan Kalyan defended the BJP and said that Prime Minister was implemented what Gandhiji had envisioned. Supporting the CAA, he said that the Indian Muslims would not lose citizenship as claimed by the opposition parties.
Speaking about this, political analyst, Palwai Raghavendra said, “The support to CAA while other allies are distancing from it, is desperation. After the defeat Pawan Kalyan has realized his capability, that they cannot survive without the support of the BJP.”
Notwithstanding the clarification, BJP and the YSRCP sharing a warm relationship (YSRCP supporting Citizenship Amendment Bill and BJP-led Centre not intervening in the capital controversy) has put Pawan Kalyan in an awkward position.
“Within a fortnight of the alliance Pawan Kalyan was put in an embarrassing situation,” said political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.
While the political rout of JSP in the elections should have prompted the party to build second leadership to strengthen the party as suggested by political experts, the party has taken no steps in that direction. The decision of Pawan Kalyan to make a comeback in films adds to this perception. “The future of JSP is very bleak. It is facing its worst crisis,” says Raghavendra.
Ravi, however, differs. “Pawan Kalyan himself said that his party is for the long haul and it may take 25 years for JSP to fully emerge as a regional party.”
Ravi although agrees that Pawan Kalyan is desperate to have the BJP's alliance. “Even when Pawan Kalyan met Kurnool rape victim’s mother, he was speaking about CAA. This points out that maybe the BJP state president Kanna Lakshminarayana had asked him to speak about CAA, NRC and NPR at every possible gathering. This could have been the pre-condition to have the alliance,” he said.