Home / Elections / Lok Sabha Elections 2019 /  Pawan Kalyan-led JSP expected to be spoiler in AP polls

HYDERABAD : Contesting its maiden elections, all eyes in the upcoming Andhra Pradesh assembly (and Lok Sabha) polls will be on the actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP). Unlike in 2014, when Kalyan supported the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata party ‘s (BJP) pre-poll alliance and didn’t contest, this time the JSP has joined hands with left parties (CPI, CPM) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) to take on the mainstream parties.

While Kalyan, who is promising to usher in clean politics, is not expected to emerge as a winner, political analysts say that the JSP might play a key role in deciding the outcome. The former actor belongs to the Kapu community, which holds a significant numerical advantage in the East and West Godavari districts (and in pockets of other districts) where he is believed to have helped the TDP win all the nearly 20 assembly seats in 2014.

In the upcoming elections, the TDP, main opposition YSR Congress (YSRCP) and BJP will be contesting alone this time. The TDP, which is likely to face anti-incumbency, broke its alliance with the BJP in March last year. “We are on par with the TDP and YSRCP, and are very strong in both the Godavari districts, also in Guntur and Krishna districts as well. There is a lot of opposition to the TDP due its misrule in AP and you will see some surprising results this time," said Chintala Parthasathi, spokesperson and JSP’s Anakapalle Lok Sabha seat candidate.

Another JSP functionary, who did not want to be quoted, however said that his party is aiming to win 35 assembly seats and is concentrating specifically on those 30-odd segments. “ Jana Sena might not play a king maker, but more of a spoiler, especially for the TDP which had won with our support in 2014 due to consolidation of the Kapu vote. This time since we are contesting, it might give the YSRCP an edge," he conceded.

In the 2014 assembly elections, the TDP won 102 seats, BJP 4, and YSRCP. Subsequently, more than 20 MLAs defected to the TDP and more recently there has been host of defections of both MLAs and MPs between the TDP and YSRCP in the run up to the upcoming elections. In the 2009 AP (joint state) elections, Kalyan’s brother and actor Chiranjeevi had also floated the Praja Rajyam party (PRP), managing to win 18 seats with a 17-18% vote share. He later merged the PRP with the Congress.

A senior TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that Kalyan’s party might win anything between five to 10 seats, with a vote share of 10 %. “We don’t know the JSP will fare, and that is the million dollar question. As far as TDP is concerned, we will lose seats in the West Godavari district, and gain in the Rayalaseema region (which is dominated by the YSRCP and a little over 50 assembly seats)," he told Mint, and added that the TDP expects to win anything between the 90 to 100 seats this time.

“Pawan Kalyan will mostly win in the East/West Godavi districts, and in pockets of Krishna and Guntur districts, where the Kapu community is numerically more dominant (believed to be about 20% in certain places). So in a close contest that we are likely to witness between the TDP and YSRCP, the JSP contesting elections will make a big difference in about 20 or 30 assembly seats, which might tilt the scales in someone’s favour," opined a political analyst, who requested anonymity.

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