The Lede
Does the ‘Power Star’ Have The Power To Be The Game Changer?
Andhra Pradesh

Does the ‘Power Star’ Have The Power To Be The Game Changer?

GS Radhakrishna

Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan has decided to take on all parties in an effort to provide an alternative in Andhra Pradesh

‘Power Star’ Pawan Kalyan has already proved his mettle in the fight against BJP and NDA by setting up a Joint Fact-Finding Committee (JFFC) and preparing a report to expose the bluff by the Centre with regard to special status for Andhra Pradesh. The report prepared by a team of experts and former IAS officers has nailed the BJP on why special status could not be given to the state.

Kalyan began his outfit as an NGO offering issue-based support to political parties. A year ahead of the 2019 general and Assembly polls though, he has re-engineered his strategy and positioned his Jana Sena, now a political party, into an alternative to the powerful regional and national parties in the state. “Having tasted his capacity to split votes and position himself as a distinct vote bank in 2014, Pawan Kalyan repositioned himself into a full time politician, and his outfit into the Jana Sena party,” says senior political analyst of Rajahmundry K Naveen Chowdhary.

On March 14, at the foundation day celebrations of the Jana Sena in Guntur, he asked those who wanted to join his party to give a missed call to 9394022222. “People are not a vote bank, but a family,” he declared, in his typical filmi style.

Kalyan spared no one in his address to the press. The TDP, BJP, NDA and YSR Congress came under attack. Apart from the YSRC, the natural rival of the TDP, it is only Kalyan who has directly attacked the Chandrababu Naidu government on corruption and failures.

Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, an MLC, was not spared either. “Do you know the corruption of your son?” he questioned Chandrababu Naidu, adding, “Lokesh’s grandfather, the late NT Rama Rao’s soul would be shocked at his grandson’s corruption, which has been defended by TDP leaders as the only way to garner money power to fight YSRC leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy,” Kalyan claimed.

On August 14, Kalyan plans to announce his political programme.

Kalyan has also begun construction of a house at Kaza village in the capital region of Amaravati on a two acre land at a cost of Rs 4 crore, for the which foundation stone was laid yesterday by his wife Anna Lezhneva. He plans to shift base from Hyderabad to Amaravati soon and launch his political activities for AP in the near future.

“Naidu had told me that he required only 1,500-2,000 acres for the capital city but has grabbed over 33,000 acres,” said Kalyan, attacking the Chief Minister. “For building a Singapore-like capital, you have to give Singapore-like administration (corruption free),” he said. He also castigated the AP CM on issues like vote-for-note, red sanders smuggling and sand mafia. “Naidu has said if red sanders wood (caught from smugglers in the forests of Seshachala forests in AP-TN) was sold, AP can realise over Rs 25,000 crore, enough to build the state capital. Then why all this begging campaign for Amaravati funds?” he asked.

“Why should we support you in 2019? We do not support your extortion. We supported TDP in 2014 for revival of a divided AP and not for the revival of the TDP,” he added.

The YSRC chief Jaganmohan Reddy was not spared either. “Jagan wishes to enter the Assembly if he becomes CM only,” he said.

Taking on the BJP and the Congress as well, Kalyan said, “We are not scared of the Centre or its CBI as we have nothing to hide and there are no scams on our back,” he said.

But the amateur politician, the ‘Power Star’, shows clearly. The presentation was akin to a film script and it is anyone’s guess who Pawan Kalyan managed to convince.

TDP leaders have not responded to Pawan’s charges against their supremo. Naidu appears to have asked his leaders not to add weight to the political rhetoric with their comments. “We will handle all the issues at the right time,” Naidu reportedly told party leaders at a teleconference on March 15.

The BJP too, is sore at Pawan Kalyan. “If Pawan Kalyan wants to hang around in politics for long, he’d better understand the logistics and nuances of politics. He does not seem to understand the gravity of his direct charges he is making left, right and centre. He is making the same mistakes his brother Chiranjeevi did earlier,” said BJP spokesman Somu Virraju, at Vijayawada.

Going to war against the well-oiled machine of the TDP and even the YSRC, will be no mean feat for a newcomer to Andhra politics. Will Pawan Kalyan fight on or make compromises, like his brother and Mega Star Chiranjeevi did with his party Praja Rajyam, which was once touted as a game changer? All will depend on the Power Star’s strategy for 2019.