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TDP looks to cash in as BJP-Jana Sena cold war brews ahead of Badvel bypolls

TDP looks to cash in as BJP-Jana Sena cold war brews ahead of Badvel bypolls

Hyderabad: There are apparent fissures in the alliance between the BJP and actor-politician Pawan Kalyan led Jana Sena Party (JSP). The rift was evident on Sunday when the BJP decided to contest the Badvel Assembly bypolls in Andhra Pradesh slated to be held on October 30. The decision comes just a day after Pawan announced that he won’t be contesting the by-election and urged other parties to follow suit.

The by-election to the Badvel constituency in Kadapa district was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA Dr G Venkatasubbaiah of the ruling YSRCP. Venkatasubaiah died at the age of 61 in March after prolonged illness.

Initially, it was the JSP which wanted to contest the polls and it asked the BJP to back the party. But there was no response from the BJP’s central leadership. Later, when the YSRCP decided to field Venkatasubbaiah’s widow Dasari Sudha for the bypoll, Pawan Kalayan’s party decided to pull out of the race. The actor-turned-politician stated that the decision was taken to honour the practice of political parties letting a family member of a departed MLA contest unopposed.

Much to his surprise though, the BJP announced that it will field its candidate for the bypolls and that it was awaiting central leadership’s consent to do the same. A source in the BJP told News9 that the party was stunned by the decision of Pawan as he did not consult them before his withdrawal.

Meanwhile, backing its decision to contest, state BJP chief Somu Veerraju said,”As an alliance partner, we had asked the Jana Sena to contest. But now they have opted out. Our party’s policy has always been to fight family and dynastic politics across the country right from the beginning. Hence, we informed our central leadership that we are ready to contest the bypoll.”

This is not the first instance of a standoff between the two parties. Just last week, when Pawan decided to confront the Jaganmohan Reddy government’s decision to sell movie tickets online, the BJP decided to stay away from taking a stand on the subject. Though a few senior leaders did condemn the verbal assault on Pawan, it came albeit a few days after the incident gained political heat.

“Our leader was personally targeted by YSRCP ministers. But the BJP was a mute partner in the entire episode. This has not gone down too well with people in the party,” said a JSP leader on the condition of anonymity.

Ideological differences between the two parties came to the fore recently on two occasions when Pawan Kalyan decided to protest against bad roads in Andhra Pradesh and job calender for unemployed youth. None of the BJP leaders or karyakartas were part of the protests. As per BJP sources, they didn’t join the programme since the protest was announced by Pawan without consultation.

Similarly, Jana Sena leaders too stayed away when the BJP protested against the restrictions imposed by the Andhra government on public celebrations during Ganesh Chaturthi.

Another standoff ensued between the two parties when Pawan Kalyan decided to support the protests of worker unions against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to disinvest the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Pawan Kalyan has promised the unions that he will join them in a series of protests this month and that he would try and convince his ally to roll back their decision.

Sources in the JSP informed that they are uncomfortable over the cold war between the parties over the last few weeks.

“The BJP has either been silent on many issues in the state like the three capitals decision or has not taken a stand like awarding Central projects to the state. This has brought about restlessness among many in the party,” the senior JSP leader added.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders in the state are planning to chart their own course of action.

“We want to concentrate on the upcoming bypoll. We are waiting to see if JSP offers their support. It’s better not to talk about alliance issues ahead of a poll,” said a senior BJP leader.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has also withdrawn its candidate from the bypoll. The TDP State president Kinjarapu Atchannaidu said that the decision was taken to continue the tradition.

Meanwhile, as the relationship between BJP and Jana Sena sours over the bypoll, the TDP leadership is keeping a close watch. Sources suggest that leaders in Pawan Kalyan’s party are trying to convince him to renew the alliance with Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP. As things stand now, JSP and BJP are likely to contest the bypol as allies. But will the equations remain the same or will new alliances be formed by the time 2024 Assembly elections come around?

Political analyst Prof K Nageshwar feels that the upcoming bypoll could be a major indicator as to where the parties are headed.

“BJP leaders in the state cannot take a decision on the alliance. It will be done by the central leadership. Until the next elections, it looks like they will continue to run parallelly. It will be interesting to see if the JSP supports the BJP in the Badvel bypoll. If not, there will be more credence to the rumours that the JSP and TDP might join hands in the near future.”

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