'Sacrificed Seats for People's Sake, Ready to Become CM if Given Chance': Pawan Kalyan Shares Poll Strategy | Exclusive

1 month ago

He is the quintessential ‘Power’ star of Tollywood, who holds the record of belting out one blockbuster after another. But neta Pawan Kalyan is still waiting for a similar innings as far as his political career is concerned.

Kalyan contested unsuccessfully in 2019 from Gajuwaka and Bheemavaram. This time around, the actor, who played a key role in rekindling the TDP-BJP tie-up, is contesting for the assembly elections from Pithapuram. Can he turn around his fortunes in a seat considered a Kapu bastion, the community that his Jana Sena Party is aiming to consolidate for the alliance? More importantly, does he harbour any chief ministerial ambitions? The leader reveals all to News18 while on the campaign trail in Pithapuram.

Edited excerpts:

Why did you choose Pithapuram?

Since 2009, when we initiated a political process with my brother (Chiranjeevi), Pithapuram has always been with us. I was also asked to contest from here in 2014, but that year we just extended our support to the TDP and BJP. I had received similar requests in 2019 as well. Things changed around three years back when a family I met in Mangalagiri told me that the local deity, Puruhutika Devi, wanted me to contest from here. Another family had the same intuition. Regardless of that, the immense love and affection I received from people made me contest from here.

TDP-BJP-JSP are fighting together and as someone who has been instrumental in building that alliance, why did you let go of such a large number of seats?

Ever since the bifurcation, Telangana got great advantage in terms of money and development but the same wasn’t seen in Andhra Pradesh. In 2014, under PM Modi’s leadership, I came forward to extend my support. I have always believed that votes shouldn’t get split among like-minded individuals. After Jagan Mohan Reddy came to power, Andhra turned into the ‘Ganja’ capital of India. There is immense corruption and criminality. Instead of contesting separately, we brought everyone together as people should not suffer anymore under Jagan. I used my relationship with the Centre and ensured we all came together.

What about your cadre who are upset?

I didn’t want to take any chances. I felt the state would gain at the cost of my loss in seat share. For me, it’s always people first.

But Jagan says you have sold your party to the TDP and BJP.

It’s a baseless argument. He wants me to contest separately so that our votes get split and he takes advantage of that. I may win individually but won’t be able to form the government on my own. If I had the ability and capacity to form the government, I would have definitely contested independently but since that’s not the case, I had to take the alliance path. Jagan is corrupt with umpteen cases against him. He is the only chief minister in India who is out on bail despite charges against him.

But he is now using the same salvo for Chandrababu Naidu who was jailed in the Skill Development case.

A false case has been filed against Naidu. Jagan was caught red-handed by the central agencies. His entire family is caught up in the murder case of his uncle. There are enough criminal and financial fraud cases against him.

Do you have chief ministerial ambitions?

I’m a great admirer of Nani Palkhivala who, in his books We the People and We the Nation, wrote great things about serving people. For me, politics is all about serving people and serving the leadership…if it happens, then it’s well and good.

So you do have CM ambitions and wish to be one someday.

If it happens then it’s well and good but like the essence of Gita, do your duty and leave the rest for the Almighty. If it happens on my path, I will definitely accept it.

If TDP-BJP-JSP come together, can we see a formula where you and Naidu share the CM’s chair term-wise?

Right now, we are looking at forming the government first by winning elections. After that, all of us will sit with the central leadership and see how things unfold. So we will talk about it when we cross that river.

But will you be proposing yourself as the CM candidate?

I think about people and their issues and that’s my fundamental priority. I didn’t come into politics for a particular position. I’m interested in serving people.

But you are not denying it.

If given an opportunity, I will definitely take it up.

Who is the CM face right now?

It’s not about the CM’s face. It’s about kicking out Jagan. Whoever becomes the CM — whether Naidu or me — we are all fine. We have a great understanding.

Given the fact that you have such a mass following as a mammoth film star, do you think people accepted you as a political leader as well?

That’s what we have been seeing… When I was completely into films, I was more of a person with social consciousness. I was doing films because I didn’t have any other job to do since my family was in cinema. My fundamental craving is to think in terms of societal goodness. When I failed to win in 2019, I had a great learning. I had to go through this grinding to evolve as a leader. One failure shouldn’t stop you… I look at Kanshi Ram-ji, Mayawati-ii, Advani-ji… every national party today faced decades of struggle. I’m just a budding politician but glad that I chose this path.

BJP’s mission is ‘400 Paar’. The South is a big challenge for them.

Modi-ji has great popularity in the South. I personally felt I should stand by him. BJP will make great inroads in the South.

Any message for Jagan Mohan Reddy?

Jagan has to pack his bags. The central jail is waiting for him.

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