The last day for nominations in the Telangana polls is fast approaching but there is no indication from the Jana Sena Party chief and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan about fielding candidates from his party in any of the 119 Assembly segments in the December 7 election.
It may be recalled that a few days ago Pawan had said that he would take a final call on fielding candidates soon, while the YSRCP has openly announced its unpreparedness to contest this election as it is preoccupied with preparations for the 2019 Assembly election in Andhra.
Political observers are now drawing comparisons between the TDP, YSRCP and Jana Sena in the context of formulation and implementation of their respective election strategies.
At this juncture, there seems little scope for Pawan to put up his party nominees in Telangana, considering the fact that nominations will end on November 19, just three days from now. Moreover, the battle lines are drawn now and even the time-consuming process of seat sharing in the ‘Mahakutami’ alliance has been completed now and the allies – Congress, TDP, TJS and CPI – are raring to take on Telangana CM K Chandrasekhara Rao unitedly.
It is an undisputed fact that both YSRCP president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Jana Sena leader Pawan enjoy popularity in every nook and corner of Telangana. While Jagan has the celebrity status of being the son of former chief minister, the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Pawan is a celebrity himself with a widespread network of fans and a youth following in the poll-bound state. Even then, they could not prepare their parties to make their presence felt in the Telangana polls, a fact which is raising many an eyebrow over what exactly might have led to this situation.
Both the young leaders are apparently unwilling to burn their fingers in the December polls, as any major setback in this poll will have serious negative consequences that will greatly mar their chances in the AP Assembly election, which is likely in April or May 2019. This means that there would be only a short gap of four to five months after the December 7 polls in Telangana.
For Jagan, the 2019 AP Assembly election is considered by his own party men as a do-or-die battle considering that a consecutive defeat, after the 2014 upset, will threaten the very survival of his regional party, YSRCP, which is named after his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy. Jagan has faced the bitter experience of many of his MLAs and MPs defecting to the TDP in the past three years. The YSRCP won 66 seats in the 175-member AP Assembly in 2014 and 22 of them joined the TDP later. The party won eight MP seats in AP out of which three defected to the TDP eventually.
In Telangana, YSRCP’s situation is even worse as all the three MLAs and one MP it won in 2014 later switched loyalties to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
In the case of Pawan Kalyan, his party’s organisational structure is yet to take a full-fledged shape in Andhra Pradesh itself. He is mostly relying on leaders like former assembly speaker Nadendla Manohar, who quit the Congress recently to join the Jana Sena Party in the hope of contesting the next elections in AP with Pawan’s blessings.
The Jana Sena leader is also facing the difficult task of removing the caste tag being attached to his party by rivals in the face of a surge of support from his ‘Kapu’ caste in the two Godavari districts. Against this backdrop, Pawan is forced to assert several times that there will be no talk of caste in his party and everybody will get equal opportunities based on merit and standing.
On the other hand, the TDP has got a head start in the Telangana elections with its leader and AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu having taken the lead to forge the Mahakutami alliance with the Congress. Though born out of the Congress party, Jagan’s YSRCP could not attempt an alliance with its parent party at any time because of the irreconcilable differences Jagan has with the Congress high command.
In the all-important realignment of political alliances, both YSRCP and Jana Sena got marginalised in Telangana, to the point where they no longer have any chance of a reasonable appearance in the polls. The TDP did a balancing act and maintained its influence in the Mahakutami alliance, which has enabled the party to now contest 14 seats under seat-sharing with prospects of putting up a strong fight in most segments there.