Two years are left for the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, but the state is already witnessing heightened political activity aimed at the 2024 polls. Last week, Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan held a general body meeting with his party functionaries at Mangalagiri in Guntur. At the meeting, the JSP chief told the party leaders that they have three options for the 2024 elections: option 1, JSP will face the polls in alliance with the BJP; option 2, JSP, BJP and TDP will fight the polls together; and option 3, JSP will go it alone at the polls.
With this, Pawan Kalyan has given an open invitation for the TDP and the BJP to put aside their differences and come together for the polls. This is not the first time Pawan is trying to broker peace between former allies, urging them to bring down the YSRCP government together. However, the BJP is content with its present alliance with the JSP, and is not inclined towards an alliance with the TDP. The TDP had earlier indicated that they were open for an alliance, but as the BJP did not respond positively, TDP chief and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had remarked: ‚ÄúPolitical alliance cannot be a one-sided love affair.‚ÄĚ
According to a top leader from the BJP, the party is not interested in an alliance with the TDP considering the deep wedge between the two parties. The TDP and BJP with the support of Pawan Kalyan fought together and emerged victorious in the 2014 Assembly elections in the state; however, the parties snapped ties in March 2018, a year before the previous Assembly elections, over the BJP-led Union government denying Special Category Status to Andhra. ‚ÄúThe party wants to grow on its own. We are in an alliance with JSP and that will continue. For now, we have been instructed against making any statements about any other alliance,‚ÄĚ the leader said.
‚ÄúThe BJP very well understands that the politics in Andhra Pradesh is primarily a contest between two castes: the Kammas and the Reddys. So, with the help of Kapu vote bank (the dominant community to which Pawan Kalyan belongs), they want to emerge as a new alternative,‚ÄĚ says political analyst Palwai Raghavender.
The BJP on several occasions has maintained that both the YSRCP and the TDP are their rivals. The political strategy of the BJP is very evident. Across the country, they have been wooing Backward Classes communities. Though the Kapus are not BCs in Andhra Pradesh, they are fighting for that status, so the BJP wants to keep them on their side, Raghavender adds. ‚ÄúThe current BJP regime is also wary of Chandrababu, who makes sudden U-turns. So they might not be inclined to join him again,‚ÄĚ Raghavender says.
Observing why the BJP is reluctant to join the TDP and confront the YSRCP, political analyst and former MLC professor Nageshwar says that for the BJP, forming a government in the Union is more important than winning elections in the state. ‚ÄúThe BJP is well aware of its strength. They cannot win more than 3 or 4 Assembly seats even if they ally with the TDP. For them, winning Lok Sabha seats is more important than a few Assembly seats. At this juncture, they do not want to antagonise the YSRCP," he says, referring to the external support the state ruling party has been giving the national party on most political decisions.
In the 2019 elections, out of the 175 seats, the BJP had contested in 173 seats and lost all of them. The vote percentage they secured was a mere 0.84%. The JSP on the other hand had contested in 137 seats and won only one seat. The party however secured a 5.53 vote percentage.
Nageshwar also notes that the BJP is ensuring that actor-politician Pawan Kalyan does not ditch them and form an independent alliance with the TDP, by not declaring Pawan Kalyan as their Chief Minister candidate. ‚ÄúThe BJP is using it as a leverage,‚ÄĚ Nageshwar says.
According to Nageshwar, though Pawan Kalyan had not announced the option of forming an alliance with the TDP leaving out the BJP, he could explore that option as well.