He made this announcement on Thursday, ending speculations over his possible alliance with YSRCP led by YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
But political analysts in Andhra Pradesh believe that the situation may change and he may even consider aligning with YSRCP closer to elections. A report of him moving closer to TDP led by chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has been rubbished by “Jana Sena” backers.
After a severe drubbing in the just concluded Telangana elections, Naidu is looking nervous. Jagan and Pawan Kalyan are looking more confident. The TDP, which is on the back foot, is not making any bold moves keeping the precarious situation in mind.
Kalyan, younger brother of Telugu mega star and Congress leader Chiranjeevi, had backed TDP– BJP alliance in the 2014 elections by staying away from fielding his own candidates. That combination handed a shock defeat to the YSRCP, forcing Jaganmohan Reddy to sit in the opposition for five years.
Kalyan has now turned into a bitter critic of Chandrababu Naidu as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to some YSRCP sources, Reddy is averse to the idea of aligning with Kalyan. A senior leader of his party said, “Jagan thinks that people will definitely vote him into power this time. He does not want to share the credit with anyone. Secondly, he thinks Pawan Kalyan going solo will damage the TDP in a big way and help the YSRCP to come to power”.
The surveys conducted by both TDP and YSRCP reveal that “Jana Sena” can win up to 15 Assembly seats on its own and can get 5% - 25% votes in about 40 Assembly seats. It makes him a big spoiler for many in these crucial elections, some insiders claim.
Kalyan hails from backward class “Kapu” caste, which is stronger in coastal Andhra Pradesh.
According to “Jana Sena” sources, “Kapus” comprise about 29 percent of the state’s population, making it the single largest caste in the state. But the others contest these claims, saying that “Kapu” population is about 15 percent in the state.
The “Kapus” are traditionally TDP voters as NTR’s party has been a champion of backward class politics as opposed to Congress’ upper caste, Reddy-dominated SC/ST, and minorities politics.
After Jaganmohan Reddy left the party in 2010 and the bifurcation of AP, the once-dominant Congress is almost dead in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress votes have gone to YSRCP enmasse.
Jagan camp is hoping that Kalyan will cause maximum damage to TDP by splitting backward class votes. But some of his loyalists express apprehensions that “Jana Sena” can also cause damage to YSRCP in some places.
Kapu caste’s agitation demanding official backward status to them was backed by both YSRCP and Congress. It had put the Naidu government on back foot in 2016.
“In 2009, Chiranjeevi led ‘Praja Rajyam’ had caused a huge damage to Naidu’s TDP by helping chief minister Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy-led Congress to retain power at both state and the Centre. Jagan is expecting repeat of the same scenario in the coming elections. But, we can’t say that for sure,” said a Jagan confidante.
If nothing changes till the elections, the currently bipolar AP politics can turn into a three-horse race like 2009.