A new entrant into politics, the Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan has thrown challenge to hold panchayat elections. Hold the election if you have guts, was how he challenged the chief minister. Taking advantage of the ruling party’s weakness, he seized the political weapon. Unable to either accept the challenge or counter it, TDP found itself in a dilemma. Second rung leaders failed to respond, no to talk about the front rank leadership. Jana Sena cadre took their leader’s challenge to people claiming that TDP’s game is over. Jana Sena is kicking up a storm by daring TDP to hold elections. Two major parties in the state are evading the issue to imply that it is not a big thing. Observers say that there is political strategy in Pawan’s challenge.
The tenure of about 3,000 panchayat bodies is ending in August. If elections are conducted, new sarpanchs will be elected. TDP is quite strong at the village level. The elections are held on non-party lines and people cast their votes by looking at the local leaders. TDP has an upper hand over YSRCP and Jana Sena in terms of leadership. However, Chandrababu is not ready for panchayat elections. His apprehension is that if resources are used in village level elections, the local leaders will not be able to focus on assembly elections. If village level elections are conducted after assembly elections, the local leaders will depend on the top leadership. There is a feeling that they will also work hard for MP, MLA elections. If their elections are held, they will not care much about MPs and MLAs. Assembly and Parliament elections are prestigious for TDP. In the meantime, Chandrababu is not ready to take risks. He feels that using cadre and resources now is useless. There is also a concern that in case of any adverse outcome, it will have its impact on assembly elections.
Jagan is very confident that this time they will come to power. He is not ready to accept suggestions and advise from those who are either neutral or speaking against this confidence. Undavalli Arun Kumar, Lagadapati Rajgopal and Sabbam Hari were close aides of YSR. They used to speak with an eye on political atmosphere. Some well wishers of the party tried to fix a meeting between these leaders and Jagan. However, considering Jagan’s stand, they did not take the initiative. Victories and defeats are common in politics. However, at this stage YSRCP is not in a position to accept defeat. After being in power in panchayat bodies for five years and in assembly for four years, if TDP wins panchayat elections it will boost its self-confidence. This will demoralize YSRCP cadre. Moreover, compared to YSRCP, TDP dominates the local leadership. The TDP is around for 35 years and it was in power for 20 years. That’s why there is no dearth of strong leaders at the panchayat level. The elections have to be held on apolitical lines. Still, the party affiliations can be easily ascertained. That’s why YSRCP also feels that local body elections at this stage will be a risk.
Barring four districts, Jana Sena doesn’t appear to have much impact in the state. Still it is throwing challenges for the ruling party. Jana Sena is confident of getting good support at the village level. It believes it has good support socially and in terms of caste. It hopes that irrespective of the caste, youth will back the party. Keeping all these in view, Pawan Kalyan has decided to enter the fray for any election. It believes that panchayat elections can be a yardstick to measure the public support it is receiving. Jana Sena leaders are of the view that there will be no opportunity better than this to know strengths and weaknesses and to take corrective steps. They believe that it will also give clarity with regard to poll management, campaign, mobilization of financial resources and coordination. Jana Sena is entering the fray for the first time. Pawan believes that panchay elections can serve as trial run to prepare for assembly polls. That’s why he is throwing challenges by stating that he is ready to enter the fray.