Chandrababu courts Pawan Kalyan, sniffs chance to woo BJP

But Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan dragged their feet and stopped short of announcing a formidable alliance for the 2024 elections

Chandrababu courts Pawan Kalyan, sniffs chance to woo BJP

VIJAYAWADA: Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan, presidents of TDP and Jana Sena respectively on Tuesday held protracted deliberations, lasting over an hour and 20 minutes, on putting up a united fight against the ruling YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh. But they both dragged their feet and stopped short of announcing a formidable alliance for the 2024 elections.

Chandrababu Naidu, who was among the leaders to condemn the recent arrest of Jana Sena activists in Visakhapatnam, met Pawan Kalyan in Vijayawada on Tuesday. He expressed his party's solidarity with the Jana Sena amid speculation that the TDP chief was actually searching for a conduit in Pawan Kalyan to move closer to the BJP.

Soon after their meeting, both Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan addressed the media outside the Novotel hotel in Vijayawada.

Naidu took the lead to castigate the YS Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSRCP government for its oppressive measures against the opposition parties and their leaders.

Both Naidu and Pawan Kalyan asserted that they would meet again in future in an attempt to bring together like-minded parties to stall the YSRCP regime in its stride and safeguard democracy. They named all the parties including the Left parties while stating that they would wait for their response before formulating an action plan in this regard.

The TDP supremo, who was critical of the way Pawan Kalyan treated in Visakhapatnam, was, however, elusive on a pointed question if Tuesday's meeting would open the door for a broader electoral understanding of opposition parties for the 2024 elections. Instead, he gave a clarion call, not just to Pawan Kalyan but even to all sections to keep carrying out their programmes and fight for their right to voice their opinions freely.

"There is a need for everyone to come together. We all should come together. My request to Pawan Kalyan is that we should organise programmes. The parties will decide on their own later on how to contest (elections)." That was how Chandrababu Naidu responded.

The TDP chief alleged that events unprecedented in the history of the state were being witnessed now under the YSRCP rule. Claiming that Pawan Kalyan and his Jana Sainiks were badly treated in Visakhapatnam, he questioned how the people could be assured of their safety when political leaders were being harassed. He said that it had been the trait of the current dispensation to gag the voices of politicians whenever they questioned its follies.

Pawan Kalyan, who took an aggressive posturing against the YSRCP a few hours before meeting Chandrababu, was more subdued on this occasion, both in tone and content. He thanked Naidu for his gesture but skirted the much-touted topic of forging either a broader understanding with the TDP.

He said he was quoted out of context when reporters referred to his statement earlier in the day that the BJP had not given any roadmap to him. Asked whether he would snap his ties with the BJP and align with the TDP, he said he was very much in alliance with the BJP.

Though the optics of Pawan Kalyan-Naidu meeting would have enthused the TDP and Jana Sena cadres, the event only emboldened the perception that was circulating among the political circles in the recent past. There is this impression that the TDP, having failed on numerous occasions in taking the YSRCP head-on, is desperate to ride on the back of the Jana Sena. Ironically, more than the Jana Sena, the TDP is seeing its hopes swelling since the Visakhapatnam episode.

Despite its strong support to the Amaravati farmers' cause, the TDP somehow decided to keep a low profile in Visakhapatnam during the YSRCP-led Visakha Garjana. As a perfunctory step, it merely confined itself to holding a round-table conference while agitators rooting for the three-capitals proposal poured out onto the streets in the port city on October 15. But the ruckus caused thereafter, courtesy the entry of Pawan Kalyan, and the subsequent developments seem to have given Chandrababu Naidu a real good reason to jump into the melee and scoop up some mileage.

It is believed that Naidu, one of the first to express his outrage over the Jana Sena arrests, actually sensed an opportunity from the Jana Sena's latest fight for a grand political reunification with the BJP. After a quick assessment of the situation, Naidu was believed to have come to this realisation especially seeing the battery of BJP leaders going all guns blazing against the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government and throwing their weight behind Pawan Kalyan.

The wave of support, right from BJP's Vishnuvardhan Reddy to its AP unit president Somu Veerraju and from Purandhareswari to many other central leaders, showed a new-found affinity towards Pawan Kalyan, raising the expectations of a new bonhomie between the saffron party and the Jana Sena appearing on the horizon. And this goes perfectly in sync with the speculation in the last few months that the BJP would be more open for a long-term alliance with a fledgling party like Jana Sena rather than an old war horse, TDP, with a canny leader known for his opportunistic flip-flops.

Already feeling like a fish out of the pond, Naidu needed a context, a pretext to be more precise, to scuttle a premature alienation of the TDP when it came to forging a potent anti-YSRCP front in the state. And here he is, losing no time and opportunity, to court Pawan Kalyan, for the umpteenth time, with his gaze firmly set on finding the perfect saddle to ride on. As on this moment, that is nothing but Jana Sena.

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