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Modi’s meeting with Pawan Kalyan has no electoral significance, analysts say

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meeting with Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan in Visakhapatnam has sparked political circles. The meeting is gaining significance as Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu had shown solidarity with Pawan Kalyan in his “struggle to protect democracy”. After the meeting, there was a lot of speculation about a possible alliance between Jana Sena and TDP.

However, the prime minister’s meeting changed the equations. The prime minister also reportedly said there was no possibility of allying with TDP.

At the invitation of the BJP’s national leadership, Kalyan met Modi when the latter was camping in the port city as part of a two-day visit. Kalyan, along with Jana Sena political affairs committee chairperson Nadendla Manohar, met the prime minister in the INS Chola suite. In a 30-minute meeting, Modi had a one-on-one interaction with Kalyan.

Telakapalli Ravi, a political commentator, revealed the possible purpose of the meeting: “This meeting took place in the background of Naidu’s meeting with Pawan Kalyan and the decision to ‘save democracy’. The actor was also detained at a hotel in Visakhapatnam for two days after his supporters reportedly collided with a minister’s convoy. After this, Pawan asked for a road map from the BJP to overthrow the YSRCP government. That roadmap excludes Chandrababu Naidu. As BJP did in many cases, it wants to replace Congress in Telangana and TDP in Andhra Pradesh. Modi told Pawan Kalyan that he had no illusions about Naidu and was not keen on an alliance with TDP. Pawan submitted a five-page letter to Modi, listing grievances against the YSRCP government, and the prime minister said he knows everything. Pawan didn’t say a word about the Vizag steel mill, an issue he often brings up, and made a vague statement that AP would see good days soon.”

Ravi added that he does not see an alliance between TDP and JSP in the future. “After Naidu met Pawan Kalyan at a hotel in Vijayawada, there was no joint statement from them or any other meeting. We can conclude from this that no alliance is emerging between them.”

E Venkateshu, a political science professor from Hyderabad Central University, sees nothing of electoral significance in the meeting. “I don’t think the meeting had any electoral significance as the general election is still over 20 months away. It may be important for long-term planning, but if you look at it from an electoral performance standpoint, Jana Sena had a 7.5 percent vote share with one assembly seat in the 2019 election. BJP had less than 1 percent without a single seat. So we don’t know if the parties will have any advantage over others if they stay together.”

Explaining the image of the Saffron Party in AP, the professor added: “Congress and BJP are seen as ‘sinful’ parties in Andhra Pradesh. The former is hated for splitting Andhra Pradesh and the latter for not granting special category status. So the BJP meeting with Jana Sena does not have any electoral advantage.”

Another reason for the meeting could be YSRCP’s plan to establish three capitals, he added. The powerful Kapu community of coastal Andhra may have asked Pawan to meet Modi and block the government’s plans. However, the YSRCP does not oppose any policies of the central government. TDP is falling rapidly due to a lack of leadership. Naidu is getting older and his son is not seen as a capable leader. It remains to be seen if they can revive the party. On the other hand, the YSRCP is not as aggressive against Jana Sena as it is against the TDP. Therefore, Pawan would have met Modi for the cause of a single, centralized capital,” the professor said.

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