“Power Star” and Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan appears to be drifting towards the BJP-led NDA coalition in Andhra Pradesh. Pawan Kalyan, a popular mass hero in Telugu films, has announced this week that he would be devoting more time to politics from October and has indicated that he is likely to go with the NDA in the coming elections, according to sources close to him.

If that happens, it will be a boost to the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is staring at a combined fight by the Opposition parties led by Jagan’s YSR Congress in the next elections. TDP president and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is keen on continuing his alliance with the BJP, while adding Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena. Naidu made a proposal to this effect to Pawan Kalyan when they met at the Chief Minister’s residence in Amaravati on Monday. The actor led a delegation of party leaders and a team of doctors from Harvard University to discuss the problems of people with kidney diseases, in Srikakulam district of AP. Naidu readily agreed to act on the suggestions from Pawan Kalyan and his doctors to solve the issue.

According to sources, at Naidu’s residence in Amaravati, the AP CM was particular that the actor should remain with the NDA so that they can fight the Opposition led by Jagan in 2019. For the last three years, Pawan Kalyan has been maintaining distance from both Congress as well as Jagan’s YSR Congress.

Pawan had openly supported Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2013 and later canvassed for him in the general elections too. Pawan Kalyan had addressed three rallies with Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu in the combined AP. However, Pawan Kalyan had no political party of his own and he later founded the Jana Sena Party in 2015.

Younger brother of former Union minister and Rajya Sabha member K. Chiranjeevi, Pawan enjoys support among the youth, especially among the Kapu community which is predominant in the coastal districts of East and West Godavari districts and the Rayalaseema region. Pawan Kalyan has starred in many blockbuster Telugu movies and commands a remuneration of around Rs 15 crore per film.

Taking Pawan Kalyan along suits the political interests of Chandrababu Naidu, as currently the Kapus are on a war path, demanding Other Backward Classes (OBC) status for them in AP. Popular Kapu leader and former minister Mudragada Padmanabham has threatened a padyatra (walkathon) from his residence at Kirlampudi in East Godavari to Amaravati to press for OBC status for Kapus.

Naidu has crushed the stir and put Padmanabham under house arrest, but the Kapus all over AP are agitating in support of their leader’s release from house arrest and allowing him to take up the padyatra. Naidu and his ministers have alleged that Padmanabham has become a tool in the hands of Jagan, as YSR Congress leaders were behind his agitation.

Naidu thinks that having Pawan Kalyan on his side would counter Padmanabham’s influence and neutralise the Kapus. Pawan Kalyan is currently discussing the pros and cons of keeping away from Padmanabham’s stir, a close aide of the “Power Star” told this newspaper on Thursday. “Pawan also seeks OBC status for Kapus, but he won’t join Padmanabham,” said the aide. 

Efforts are underway to arrange a meeting between Pawan Kalyan and BJP president Amit Shah, as the latter is expected to visit AP sometime in September. 

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