In a move that set off speculation in Andhra Pradesh, actor-politician and Jana Sena Party (JSP) chief Pawan Kalyan on Wednesday flew to Lucknow to meet senior leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). He was accompanied by former united Andhra Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar and attempted to meet BSP President Mayawati but could not do so, as she was not present in the city.
Many said that Pawan’s visit was signaling an interesting political equation that Jana Sena Party wants to execute in Andhra Pradesh as he has been maintaining a secular tone while addressing his rallies in the Telugu states as part of his ‘Chalo re chal’ public outreach programme.
Pawan, who hails from the Kapu caste, known for its strong political power in the two Godavari districts in Andhra, recently referred to BSP founder and stalwart of Bahujan politics in India, Kanshi Ram in a speech.
“I have great respect for Kanshi Ram. In Bihar and UP, he started BSP and confronted mighty political forces, slowly increasing the party’s vote share year after year, until the country got its first Dalit woman CM,” he had said.
Political observers were quick to state that Pawan seems to be planning to stitch an alternative alliance between the SCs and STs and other marginalised communities and the Kapu community, through the Jana Sena Party. A few months ago, a few BSP leaders had also met Pawan Kalyan in his Hyderabad office.
After visiting Dr BR Ambedkar Memorial Park in Lucknow, Pawan spoke to reporters and questioned the BJP and said that the BJP was going back on its promises because of a lack of political accountability.
However, when asked about his strategies for the 2019 elections, he said, "There are no political strategies. We want to uplift and continue the spirit of the Indian constitution. That’s our request to all political leaders in all states of the country."
When asked if the Jana Sena Party would have an alliance with any party from Uttar Pradesh, Pawan said, "As of today, we are exploring lot of possibilities and we want to understand each other. We have always had great respect for Kanshi Ram ji and his spirit which was taken forward by the successive leadership."
He also claimed that he was in touch with BSP since 2007 and the purpose of his visit was to understand the possibilities and scope of understanding each other, if any. He said that further details would be revealed in the future.
“We don't have any personal agenda. The people’s agendas is our agenda,” he said.
While reports suggest that Pawan met several top leaders of BSP, it is yet to be known about the discussions they held.