Though actor-politician Pawan Kalyan, an ally of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, appears desperate to bring the TDP on board to defeat the ruling YSRCP in the next year’s elections, the saffron party is not likely to take an early decision.
Pawan Kalyan, the leader of Jana Sena Party (JSP), attended the meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) held in Delhi on Tuesday. Before participation in the meeting, he reiterated his stand that the BJP, the TDP, and the JSP should join hands for the sake of the stability of Andhra Pradesh.
The actor wants the alliance to ensure defeat of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) led by Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy by avoiding a split of anti-incumbency votes.
A day after the NDA meeting, the BJP’s newly-appointed BJP President, D. Purandeswari said she would meet Pawan Kalyan soon. She, however, made it clear that it is the central leadership of the party which will decide electoral alliances in the state.
Though TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President J. P. Nadda last month in Delhi last month, the saffron party has not given any indication whether it would welcome the TDP back into the NDA fold.
The TDP had snapped ties with the BJP in 2018 but ever since losing power to the YSRCP in 2019, Naidu had been trying to warm up to the saffron party. However, the BJP leadership remained cold to his moves.
Political analysts say BJP may not trust Chandrababu Naidu easily this time. Naidu twice walked out of alliance with the BJP and this time, the latter seems to be treading cautiously.
“Naidu has never been straight in his politics and considering its past experience, the BJP may not easily trust him,” said analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
The JSP had not contested 2014 elections but had backed the TDP-BJP alliance. Pawan Kalyan had shared dais with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu during the campaign. Later, the actor-politician distanced from both parties. He had turned a bitter critic of the BJP for not keeping its promise to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
In the 2019 elections, Pawan Kalyan joined hands with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left parties. However, the alliance came a cropper.
The actor, younger brother of megastar Chiranjeevi, himself lost from the Assembly seats he contested. The JSP bagged a single seat in the 175-member Assembly. And the lone MLA also defected to the YSRCP a few months later. Pawan Kalyan later revived alliance with the BJP and has since been struggling to ensure that his political career does not end like that of his elder brother.
A bitter critic of Jagan Mohan Reddy, he wants to see the YSRCP’s defeat. At any cost and for this, he is trying to forge a TDP-BJP-JSP alliance.
“He can’t leave the BJP but at the same time, he needs the TDP’s support. He needs their support for his political survival after the bitter result of 2019,” said Raghavendra Reddy.
The BJP, like the Congress, does not have much presence in Andhra Pradesh. It wants to keep Pawan Kalyan on its side to remain afloat. The saffron party still hopes to cash in on the actor’s popularity. And at the same time, it is eyeing votes of Kapus, the caste to which he belongs.
Naidu, who has already declared that coming elections will be his last, is keen to see consolidation of opposition to ensure Jagan’s defeat. But the question remains whether BJP will trust him again. Since the YSRCP extended support to the BJP in passing key Bills in the Parliament. And stayed away from opposition parties, the BJP may not like to disturb the equation especially. When some surveys are projecting 22-24 Lok Sabha seats for Jagan’s party.
In 2019, the YSRCP had bagged 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats and won 151 seats in state Assembly. The TDP had won three Lok Sabha and 23 Assembly seats. The BJP, which had contested alone, had drawn a blank.