The Jana Sena has tied up with the Left and the BSP in Andhra Pradesh. It has allotted 21 Assembly seats and three Lok Sabha seats to the BSP. Seat-sharing talks with the Left parties are ongoing.
Actor-turned-politician Konidela Pawan Kalyan, 47, founded the Jana Sena Party on March 14, 2014. In the 2014 elections, Pawan Kalyan supported the TDP-BJP alliance, campaigning alongside TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, but did not contest himself. The Jana Sena did not put up any candidates in the elections that year.
Over time, Pawan became disillusioned with the ruling TDP over various issues, including farm distress, special category status, etc. He started actively touring Andhra Pradesh from September last year, meeting with farmers, women, unemployed youth, academics, and professionals. In January 2018, he had toured Telangana.
When he started off, Pawan was the only major leader in his party. There are a few other recognisable faces with him now, including the former Speaker of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly Nadendla Manohar, and former IPS officer V V Lakshminarayana.
Pawan’s ideology is to bring social equality. His fans call it “Pawanism”. He says that his party represents politics without caste or religion. He aims to reduce the use of money in politics, and to fight corruption. One of the points in the Jana Sena’s manifesto is to bring the Chief Minister under the Lok Ayukta.
Maintaining simplicity and austerity, Pawan or his party leaders do not spend much money for organising public meetings or campaigning. When Jana Sena invited applications from people seeking to contest elections last October, more than 3,000 people applied. Most of the applicants were social activists, lawyers, doctors, farmers, and student leaders.
Pawan belongs to the Kapu community, but he says it would be a mistake to call the Jana Sena a Kapu party, or assume that his party is seeking Kapu votes. Pawan, whose films are mostly blockbusters, has a huge fan following among the youth and women.
However, Pawan remains a political novice and the Jana Sena a fledgling party, and what impact they can make in the elections in Andhra Pradesh is not clear yet. Pawan’s elder brother K Chiranjeevi had launched the Praja Rajya Party in August 2008, but could win only 18 seats in undivided AP. Chiranjeevi was forced to disband the party and merge it with the Congress.
The Kapu community is disillusioned with the ruling TDP for not being able to give the promised quota in jobs and education. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has tried to rectify it by allocating 5 per cent quota to Kapus from the 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections that the Centre passed in January. Whether the TDP will manage to keep the Kapus on its side or they will prefer Jana Sena this time remains to be seen. Some political analysts say that Jana Sena may not win many seats, but will definitely cut votes of TDP which may end up helping the YSRCP.
The Jana Sena manifesto promises an irrigation support fund of Rs 8,000 per acre to each farmer, free food for students in special canteens, free education from the KG to PG levels, a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 to small farmers ages 60 years and above, a Rs 10 lakh health insurance for eligible beneficiaries, mobile diagnostic clinics, implementation of the Sachar Committee’s recommendations, 33 per cent reservation for women in the state legislature, a High Court Bench in Rayalaseema, and financial support for fishermen in the non-fishing season.