For actor-turned politician and Jana Sena Party (JSP) founder-president K Pawan Kalyan, the upcoming general elections will surely be a defining moment that will decide his political survival. 

Jana Sena is throwing its hat in the ring for elections to the AP State Assembly and Lok Sabha scheduled for May 13, 2024, in a pre-poll pact with Telugu Desam Party and BJP.

While elections are crucial for any political party, the upcoming elections are key for Pawan Kalyan in many ways.

The 10-year-old Jana Sena had a bad start in the 2019 polls. It contested all 175 seats in the State but put up a humiliating show. It lost all seats except one in Razole, even as its chief, Pawan Kalyan himself, lost in two constituencies where he contested. 


But this did not deter the reel-life ‘Power Star’ from waging a real-life battle for the political survival of JSP. He gained ground by maintaining a lively interface with the public at ground level on key issues such as the farmers’ agitation against the YSR Congress Party (YSCRP) government’s decision to move the executive capital away from Amaravati, the deplorable condition of roads, and alleged corruption.

In fact, the Jana Sena Chief has been on the move constantly for the last five years, and the JSP was the only party that made steady headlines, even surpassing the main opposition TDP in the process. 

The huge public response and the buzz that Pawan Kalyan would be the ‘next CM’ strengthened the JSP cadre. In caste-ridden AP politics, he has an innate advantage of hailing from the Kapu community, which accounts for 24 per cent of AP’s population. His increasing popularity also earned him the ‘affection’ of top leaders of BJP, including PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, to whom he is seen as ‘very close’.


But now, all this popularity and the gains made at the ground level by JSP appear to be in jeopardy. As per the pre-poll alliance, JSP is now left with just 21 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats, disappointing the party cadre and top leaders who visualised Pawan as the `next CM’ with their own aspirations for a role in a new JSP-led government. 

The biggest challenge for the ‘power star’ now is to re-energise the party cadre, douse the flames of dissent and protest against the poll-alliance, and an acceptance that JSP is not in a position to make headway on its own in the polls even after 10 years of existence. This notion is being effectively used by the ruling YSRCP as its main plank to dismiss Pawan Kalyan as a `non-entity’ in AP politics. 

Yet another issue before the JSP is to ensure effective conversion of its votes to the TDP-BJP candidates, even as some of the disgruntled leaders of the party are making a beeline to join YSRCP in key constituencies. 

Above all, the biggest question is: Will Pawan Kalyan bulldoze the YSRCP in his own constituency of Pithapuram and register his first electoral win in his political journey? It remains to be seen.