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The Pawan Kalyan Poll Forecast: Andhra Pradesh is slipping out of Chandrababu Naidu’s hands

Assembly Elections: Actor and Jana Sena Party leader Pawan Kalyan believes that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has lost his grip over the administration and over his TDP. He also sees a hung assembly and a ‘pivotal role’ for himself in the 2019 assembly elections in the state.

assembly elections Updated: Nov 30, 2018 20:17 IST
Gali Nagaraja
Gali Nagaraja
Hindustan Times, Vijayawada
assembly elections,2019 andhra assembly election,pawan kalyan
Actor and Jana Sena party president Pawan Kalyan at a press conference in Chennai. (PTI)

Jana Sena Party (JSP) leader and actor Pawan Kalyan foresees a hung assembly in Andhra Pradesh in the 2019 elections, a possible defeat for chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and a “pivotal role” for himself, he told Hindustan Times in an interview.

“I am sure CBN (Chandrababu Naidu) will lose the assembly election in 2019. He has lost his grip over the administration and over his own Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLAs, his popularity is fast shrinking, (his is) a government bogged down in corruption,” Kalyan said in Andhra Pradesh’s Rajahmundry before undertaking a bus journey to areas inhabited by tribespeople.

He said the era of coalition politics was set to replace bipolar politics in Andhra Pradesh. “The period between 2019 and 2021 will witness a sea change in Indian polity, which includes Andhra Pradesh. The leaders in power, representing the kind of politics in the early 1980s, are failing to address the aspirations of today’s young generation. They have become senile and people are craving the infusion of new blood in politics,” the JSP leader said.

The actor-turned-politician ruled out pre-poll alliances with any party when asked about the possibility of JSP aligning with YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress. He said he intended to pursue a middle path, away from the ruling TDP and the YSR Congress. The JSP will also not align with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he added.

Asked whether he would extend support to Jagan Reddy to form a coalition government in Andhra, he replied, “I will cross the bridge when I come to it.” Any decision he would take on post-poll alliances would be in line with public expectations, he said.

Kalyan said he was annoyed by what he claimed was Naidu’s greed for power and his tendency to hold on to power by any means in violation of his 2014 poll promise of corruption-free governance. “This is the reason why I got alienated from him after supporting him in the last election,” he explained.

He alleged that Naidu had backed off from his promise that he would build a world-class state capital on land belonging to the government and had, instead, acquired fertile private land spread over 33,000 acres. “The so-called world-class capital in Amaravati now looks like a rich man’s capital with no space for commoners,” he claimed.

Reacting to TDP’s allegations that he was playing into the hands of the BJP, Kalyan said, “A guy taking the middle path takes more beatings.... In fact, I was the first person to pick a fight with the (Narendra) Modi government at the Centre on demonetisation and singing of the national anthem in cinema theatres.”

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He recalled that he backed Modi during the 2014 general elections after he promised to undo the damage done to Andhra Pradesh when it was bifurcated to form Telangana state, but the latter failed to keep his word. “This has closed all options for the Jana Sena to be friendly with BJP. I am not the kind of person playing backdoor politics,” he said.

On his JSP positioning itself in national politics in a scenario where Naidu is trying to forge an anti-BJP front with the Congress on board and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao pitching for a non-BJP and non-Congress People’s Front, Kalyan said he wished to make the South a unified block that could defend itself from the lobbies of the “elite political class of north India”. Southern states like Andhra Pradesh are playing second fiddle to this elite north Indian political class and this equation needs to change, he asserted.

How differently did he propose to do things from his elder brother and film star Chiranjeevi, who started the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) on the plank of social justice in 2009, and later merged it with the Congress? “His intentions are good. But mere good thought is not enough for someone to bring in change. He lives for art and his heart always throbs for art. But I will see art as a medium for expression of my thoughts,” Kalyan said.

Reacting to Kalyan’s comments, Manuka Varaprasad, the TDP whip in the legislative council, said: “Pawan Kalyan is living in a fool’s paradise if he is hoping to see the defeat of TDP in 2019. Andhra Pradesh has become a model state in development and has been receiving widespread appreciation from other states. We are overcoming bifurcation hiccups. The capital in Amaravati will emerge as a centre for economic growth, providing opportunities for everyone with an inclusive approach,” he said.

Senior political analyst T. Lakshminarayana said: “I don’t think Andhra people will patronise coalition politics given its past history of hung assembly or make way for a coalition government that breeds political instability and horse-trading which is not a good sign for development.”

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 13:49 IST