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'Power Star' Pawan Kalyan makes electoral debut but will he pose challenge to TDP, YSR Congress

Amaravati (AP): In a popular on-screen persona, he loves calling himself 'lion' while in another the actor boasts that his opponents are scared of him.

After five years in politics, it remains to be seen if Andhra Pradesh's top star Pawan Kalyan can pose a challenge to the TDP and the YSR Congress as his party Jana Sena fights the assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh in alliance with the CPI, CPI(M) and BSP.

His supporters say Kalyan, whom they call "Power Star", would outwit his political rivals and recreate the spectacular 1983 victory of N T Rama Rao, though both the TDP and the YSR Congress dismiss such claims saying that his party has little connect with the electorate.

Making his debut in electoral politics this year after launching the party in 2014, Pawan Kalyan has made a slew of catchy promises like 33 per cent quota for women, creation of 10 lakh jobs and Rs 10 lakh worth health insurance, but not all are convinced that it is enough. The 47-year-old actor, who is all set to contest from Gaujwaka and Bhimavaram constituencies, "is followed by a section of youths but it might not be comparable to the mass support that was enjoyed by NTR," G Haragopal, a retired professor of University of Hyderabad and political analyst, said.

However, his supporters argue that Kalyan is "down to earth and accessible to all which" which has endeared him to the masses and it would translate into votes for the Jana Sena-led alliance.

"Our nayakadu (leader) has been raising issues and pressured the government to address them. He enjoys support of all sections of the people," said a die-hard supporter Yugandhar, based in Tirupathi.

Pointing to his speeches in public meetings and rallies, the supporters of the actor, who called himself 'lion' in film 'Attarintiki Daaredhi', said that he has been a major crowdpuller. However, Haragopal wondered if the star's on-screen popularity would translate into votes. "The enthusiastic youths are not the kind who will carry on Kalyan's philosophy or ideology. They are all fans. But political cadre are different," he said.

The actor's support for the TDP-BJP combine in 2014 "helped" the alliance, claim his supporters. Pawan Kalyan enjoys a large number of youth fan following, inspite of acting in just over 25 films since his debut in 1996. Pawan Kalyan's task appears herculean given the well entrenched TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu on one side and a raging YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy on the other.

Kalyan is a sibling of actor-politician K Chiranjeevi, who unsuccessfully launched Praja Rajyam Party and later merged it with the Congress. PTI

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