News Analysis | Is JSP chief Pawan Kalyan in a hurry over alliance with Telugu Desam Party?

Jana Sena Party president K. Pawan Kalyan. File
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Jana Sena Party (JSP) founder president Pawan Kalyan, on September 14, announced that the Telugu Desam Party-JSP combine will contest the elections in 2024. It appears that Mr. Kalyan did not make any off-the-cuff statement immediately after meeting the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is lodged at Rajahmundry Central Prison on his 14-day remand for his alleged role in Skill Development scam

The actor-turned politician, Mr. Kalyan, seems to make good of the “weak position” of the TDP and its leader Mr. Naidu for his electoral battle, and also wants to claim a bigger pie.

The 2024 election is crucial for him as it will be a herculean task for him to keep his flock together and maintain tempo until the 2029 elections if he loses the steam now. He needs the TDP support, especially in East and West Godavari districts, to win some seats and enter Andhra Pradesh State Assembly in 2024. In those districts and Uttarandhra, Kapus form politically significant numbers. Mr. Kalyan focussed his attention on those districts. 

In 2019, after severing ties with the TDP, the Jana Sena Party contested alone and it was a disaster. It is pertinent to mention here that Mr. Kalyan during his Varahi yatra in East and West Godavari districts in June, addressed half-a-dozen public meetings. In a couple of meetings, he said that the JSP would go it alone, and that he wanted to become the Chief Minister, while in other meetings he preferred a front of JSP-BJP-TDP to prevent a split in the anti-YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) votes. He fears that a triangular contest among the YSRCP, the TDP and the JSP could benefit the ruling YSRCP led by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. So, he is proposing a front of the JSP-TDP-BJP, and saying that the BJP would respond positively.

Mr. Mohan Reddy won an absolute majority in 2019 and Mr. Kalyan doesn’t want a repeat of it in 2024. The JSP ended up with just one seat and Mr. Kalyan lost in both the seats he contested. His party, however, secured about 5% votes.

As a matter of fact, the TDP-JSP alliance was on the cards for about a year now, with both the leaders having met a few times. Mr. Kalyan and Mr. Naidu supported each other and  made sympathetic statements when either one of them had a run-in with the ruling party.

The former Chief Minister met Mr. Kalyan at a hotel after he was not allowed to participate in Jana Vani programme in Visakhapatnam in October 2022. Similarly, the JSP chief reciprocated when Mr. Naidu was sailing through rough weather.

 In the game, the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) might not be a big loser as its vote share is less than one per cent and cannot come to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2024. Also, the BJP’s assertion that the BJP’s alliance with the JSP in Andhra Pradesh continues, indicates that it is likely to take leverage of Mr. Kalyan and present political situation. The BJP would demand  the TDP for some winnable seats through Mr. Kalyan, in case it decides to forge an alliance with the TDP-JSP.

But, the BJP, reliable sources say, would not take any decision until December, 2023. So, whatever Mr. Kalyan speaks at this moment will be of little use. A guarded reaction by BJP State president Daggubati Purandeswari gives credence to it. “Alliances are under the purview of the national leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief J. P. Nadda will decide and clarity would only come from the Centre.” The BJP national leadership did not react to the development till date.

Ms. Purandeswari in her terse statement, said, “As of now, the BJP’s alliance with the JSP in Andhra Pradesh continues.”

For the BJP, it’s more than a vote share and winning a couple of seats. The BJP requires the YSRCP support in the Parliament going by its strength in both Lok sabha and Rajya Sabha. A cost benefit analysis will be done before going ahead with “formal alliance” with the TDP, which proved to be an unreliable ally. The BJP may need the support of the YSRCP in 2024 as well, hence it is in no hurry to decide on an alliance right now.

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