Andhra local body polls: Is alliance with BJP working for Pawan Kalyan?

After faring very poorly in the general elections in 2019, the Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by Pawan Kalyan changed its allies and its politics.
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In politics, coalitions change the number of seats a party can win, and sometimes, political stands on different issues influence the scene on the ground, but neither seems to have worked in favour of the Jana Sena Party in Andhra Pradesh’s recent local body elections. After faring very poorly in the general elections in 2019, the Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan changed its allies and its politics.

The party, which had joined hands with the Left parties ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state, forged an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the results, where it only managed to win a single MLA seat. Pawan Kalyan himself lost in both constituencies that he contested from. 

The party and its leader not only changed allies, but also adapted to the politics that BJP subscribes to. Pawan Kalyan, who had been praising leaders like Dr BR Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram up until then, took up issues such as alleged attacks on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh, in line with the BJP.

Despite this, the recent performance of the JSP seems to suggest that Pawan's ideological shift hasn’t yielded much result for the party. Out of the 2,794 wards and divisions spread over 75 municipalities and 12 Municipal Corporations, the JSP won just 30 seats, which is just over 1% of all the seats, while its ally was confined to single digits.

When Pawan declared that his party would work with the BJP, observers foresaw a possible shift in the electoral politics of Andhra Pradesh and an advantage to the former. Responding to the idol vandalism incident at Kodandarama temple of Ramateertam in Vizianagaram, Pawan said, "In our state, lord Rama's idol was damaged.

At a time when Ram temple is being constructed in Ayodhya, why is the CM not responding when there is an increase in the attacks on temples?"

Later, he even announced that he would donate Rs 30 lakh for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, as the BJP took out a massive fundraising campaign.

Political observers who are keenly looking at Pawan's political journey ever since he had launched Jana Sena Party (JSP) seven years ago, are of the opinion that any sort of alliance with the BJP is a sure loss for the JSP. They point to the JSP’s performance in the local body polls to make their point. 

Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, senior political analyst, said that Pawan Kalyan is seeing a political crisis as a result of his hasty moves to stitch up alliances with different parties.

He said, "BJP remains where it was, but the credibility of Pawan is falling consistently, beginning with his appropriation of Che Guevera and Indian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan to having an alliance with Left parties and then joining hands with the BJP."

Commenting on the JSP’s recent performance, Palwai opined, "If there is any gain in the alliance, that will be BJP's gain. If there is any loss, it will be to the JSP."

Palwai opined that JSP is not considering itself as a bigger force than its ally BJP, and this is also affecting the relationship between the both parties.

Chinna Dandu, a research scholar from the Center for Regional Studies (CRS) at Hyderabad Central University said, "Having a pre-poll and unconditional alliance with BJP will not yield any great results for JSP. Working on its own among the people and constructing the party from the base will boost the morale of the cadres before contesting in elections." 


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