Pawan Kalyan roars about YSRCP downfall, whimpers about solo fight in 2024

Jana Sena President Pawan Kalyan once again dodged the YSRCP bullet on going it alone in the 2024 elections when he reiterated that he would not allow the anti-incumbency vote to split

Pawan Kalyan

SATTENAPALLI: Jana Sena President Pawan Kalyan on Sunday once again dodged the YSRCP bullet on going it alone in the 2024 elections in Andhra Pradesh when he reiterated his oft-repeated stand that he would not allow the anti-incumbency vote to split. The actor-turned-politician addressed a public meeting here as part of his 'Kaulu Rythu Bharosa Yatra' during which he distributed cheques of Rs one lakh each to the families of tenant farmers who died by suicide.

Addressing the gathering, mostly filled with his boisterous filmy fans, Pawan Kalyan thundered that the YSRCP would not return to power in 2024 and pompously boasted of having a strategy up his sleeves to catapult the Jana Sena to the echelons of power. Ruminating the past and as if introspecting on what he could have done better, Pawan Kalyan said that YSRCP could not have formed the government had the Jana Sena and the TDP formed an alliance in the 2019 elections like they did in 2014.

In 2014, the fledgling Jana Sena did not contest the elections and instead extended its support to the TDP-BJP combine, which pipped YS Jaganmohan Reddy's YSRCP at the post to form their government.

In the same breath, Pawan Kalyan asserted that he would not allow the anti-incumbency vote of the YSRCP to split in the 2019 elections, without elaborating how he would ensure this. This is a refrain that he quite frequently used in public until his famous closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Visakhapatnam a few months ago. It was rumoured then that the star-turned-politician was tutored to steer clear of the TDP and instead work to strengthen his own base before a possible alliance with the BJP ahead of the elections in the state.

In the immediate aftermath of his meeting with Modi, Pawan Kalyan appeared to be falling in line as he kept pleading with the people to give his party one opportunity (okka chance) to help transform the state.

But by retracting to his old rhetoric now, Pawan Kalyan dropped enough hints that he was more inclined to pursue his poll duet with Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP and may also consider having the BJP in the mix.

However, the biggest takeaway from the Sunday's meeting in Sattenapalli was the clear lack of confidence and assertion on the part of the Jana Sena chief to take the YSRCP head-on in a one-on-one electoral fight. In fact, the YSRCP bandwagon has been looking to exploit this major chink in Pawan Kalyan's armour with its everyday provocative statements. The ruling party leaders, mostly from the same Kapu community that Pawan Kalyan belongs to, have been challenging the Power Star to field Jana Sena candidates in all the 175 Assembly seats before he could even think of standing up to YS Jaganmohan Reddy. Despite the ruling party's provocations, Pawan Kalyan has been carefully dodging the issue.

And by overtly harping on his familiar narrative on Sunday – that he would not allow the YSRCP's anti-incumbency vote to split – the Jana Sena chief covertly conceded that he was not up to the challenge thrown at him and that his party was still far from fielding its candidates all across Andhra Pradesh. In a way, the latest statement also reflected the prevailing mood and whispered talk within the Jana Sena and the TDP that mounting a concerted attack (read alliance) was the only way they could face off with Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and his juggernaut.

PK once again expresses his desire to become CM

Pawan Kalyan, who appears reluctant for a solo electoral fight, however continues to nurse the dream of taking the reins of power. He used the Rythu Bharosa Yatra meeting platform to once again express his desire to become the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. "If people accept and receive, I will become the Chief Minister," he said.

This instantly revived the memories of his party leaders claiming in the past that Pawan Kalyan could scale his way up to the coveted throne if Jana Sena managed to win anywhere between 30 and 40 seats in an alliance scenario with the TDP and the BJP. Since the Jana Sena is not inclined to fight it out on its own in all the 175 Assembly seats, it is assumed that Pawan Kalyan is still looking to ride on the 'three-wheeler' before banking heavily on destiny and political vagaries to test his fortune post elections.

This is one area that has been providing cannon-fodder to his critics for 'building castles in the air' rather than investing his time and energies in building his party into a potent political alternative.

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