‘Star wars’ in AP over Special Status

  • Jagan and Pawan raise political heat

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh is in the grip of a political heat wave on the contentious issue of Special Status as was promised while introducing the AP Reorganization Act in Parliament in 2014 that saw the united Andhra Pradesh becoming two Telugu States.

Though the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre had made it clear, tough in so many words, that the question of bestowing Special Status on AP is ruled out, the issue has provided the needed ammunition to YSRCP president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan to target Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and remain in limelight with an eye on the 2019 elections.

Both Jagan and Pawan Kalyan have become popular in their own way in their respective fields — the former as a ‘Rebel Star’ in politics and the latter as ‘Power Star’ in the film field. And, there is no denial of the fact that both the stars have set their eyes on the CM’s post and have been trying to exploit every given opportunity to project themselves as mass leaders championing their cause.

Thus with both Jagan and Pawan Kalyan vying with each other to champion the cause of special status for Andhra Pradesh, the political atmosphere in the state has suddenly begun to warm up. Adding fuel to the fire was the announcement of Jagan at a youth rally in Kurnool on Tuesday. He said his party MPs would resign from the Lok Sabha if the Central government fails to accord Special Status to the state during the ensuing winter session of Parliament. Jagan asserted that resignation was the only option now left with the party to mount pressure on the BJP government at the Centre to concede to the demand for Special Status.

Though YSRCP leaders proclaim that the resignation of party MPs would be a major political sacrifice for the state’s cause, there seems to be more to it than meets the eye in Jagan’s announcement. It is pertinent to recall the desperate attempts of Jagan, as the Opposition leader in the AP State Assembly, to remain in the limelight by raising the issue. However, the unruly drama enacted by him and his party legislators on the floor of the Assembly, has only backfired as it only had helped Chandrababu Naidu to gain sympathy for becoming a victim of unwanted bullying by his adversaries.

After his Assembly bid to paint Chandrababu as a villain of the state boomeranged, Jagan has taken to the streets organizing rallies and public meetings to “expose the failure of Naidu government in protecting the interests of the state.”

In the mean time, Pawan Kalyan, who has also been desperate to keep his political outfit Jana Sena alive, found the Special Status issue as a tool to project himself as a mass leader. Accordingly, he organized a public rally in Kakinada to reiterate the demand for a Special Status to AP. On this occasion, the emotionally surcharged film star wanted all the MPs from the state to resign from Parliament to bring pressure on the Centre and declared that he would ensure re-election  of those who resign and take to streets for the Special Status demand.

While Pawan Kalyan’s call for resignation of the MPs was not directed against any particular political party, Jagan was quick to exploit it as he was  very well aware that the MPs belonging to the ruling TDP and its ally BJP would not fall a prey to the power star’s call and resign. In a one-upmanship move, he declared that his party MPs would quit if the Centre fails to concede to the demand for special status during the ensuing winter session of Parliament. Even if the Centre does not succumb to these threats, YSRCP would try to contest the by-elections expecting support of Pawan Kalyan.

However, even if Pawan Kalyan, who has extended support to TDP and BJP in the 2014 elections in accordance with the wishes of Narendra Modi, tries to avoid aligning with Jagan due to his close proximity with Chandrababu and BJP, the YSRCP would still try to cash in on the situation by projecting itself as a victim of deceit by TDP-BJP combine.

Thus in the event of an expected  by-elections if the MPs resign, and also in the coming general elections in 2019, Jagan seems to be planning to go to the masses as a champion for the cause of Special Status, stressing the TDP and BJP have ditched them. However, one important and interesting aspect is, what role Pawan Kalyan would play in this battle for supremacy.


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