Reclusive Telugu star Pawan Kalyan’s new party can change the equation

He is suave, a Che lover, never endorses commercial products, and loves gardening.

The Telugu film industry adores Pawan Kalyan, popularly referred to as ‘Power Star’.

The 43-year-old is a recluse, hardly ever seen in film functions.

When he does put up an appearance, his speeches last barely a few minutes.

Two back-to-back hits — Dabbang remake Gabbar Singh and Attarintiki Daaredi, both touted to be the only films in the ₹100-crore club in Telugu — consolidate his position at the top, which he shares with Maheshbabu.

Whether his new party, Jana Sena, will also turn out a hit is to be seen.

His brother’s helper

At Praja Rajyam, founded by his brother and superstar Chiranjeevi, Pawan did play a major role. He headed the party’s youth wing and addressed well-attended rallies.

But then, he quickly went back to his well-protected private space. He never aired his views on the turbulent and tumultuous five years that the State witnessed prior to the bifurcation. Neither did he say anything about his Common Man Protection Force. Though scores of film actors have joined politics in Andhra Pradesh, he is only the third — after NT Rama Rao and Chiranjeevi — to start a political party. But unlike the other two, Pawan makes his party launch with a lot of acting career ahead.

NTR had started Telugu Desam Party at 60, Chiranjeevi floated Praja Rajyam at 55.

Pawan’s entry sharply contrasts with that of NTR and Chiranjeevi in other ways, too.

When NTR started his party in 1983, there was a political vacuum. A thoroughly discredited Congress was ruling the State unopposed for decades. It was virtually a cakewalk for NTR.

When Chiranjeevi entered the fray with a massive rally in Tirupati in 2008, YS Rajasekhara Reddy was seeking a re-vote for the Congress, while the TDP was trying to stage a comeback.

According to some, Chiranjeevi indirectly helped the Congress come back by snatching away a significant amount of anti-incumbent votes from the TDP.

A different situation

The political situation now is completely different. The State is going to elect two Assemblies.

While it is going to be a reasonably safe bet for the TRS and the Congress in Telangana, residual Andhra Pradesh is likely to see a close contest between the TDP and the YSR Congress Party.

Pawan’s support to either could play spoilsport to the other.

Though Pawan says he is open to talks with any party (to ensure defeat of Congress), he seems to prefer the TDP or the BJP (going by his “Sanatana dharma” remarks) or a likely combine of the two.

His articulate call for a rout of the Congress (Congress ko hathao, Desh ko bachao) could make him a rallying point for all the anti-Congress, anti-bifurcation forces.

As of now, there is no clarity on Pawan Kalyan’s line of thinking.

Controversial comments

Some of his remarks on Telangana leaders have attracted the wrath of some in that region, though they were merrily lapped up by Seemandhra supporters.

If he decides to go it alone, it can alter the dynamics in Seemandhra.

Even if he does not win significant seats, he can certainly make or unmake the chances of other parties.

(This article was published on March 17, 2014)
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