TIRUPATI/VIJAYAWADA: Sending clear indications that he is inclined towards the BJP, Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan, who supported the BJP-TDP alliance in the 2014 elections, on Wednesday said that he never himself distanced from the BJP but he only differed with the saffron party on Special Category Status (SCS) issue.
Pawan Kalyan also raised the contentious issue of religious conversions taking place in the state and asked the leaders belonging to the Hindu religion in the YSRC to raise their voice against the conversion activities going on in the state.
Speaking to media in Tirupati as part of his five-day tour of Rayalaseema region to take stock of his party affairs, Pawan Kalyan minced no words in saying that he is still inclined towards the BJP. “Tell me when I distanced myself with the BJP? I never distanced from the BJP. I only differed with the party on SCS as it was people’s aspiration,” he said.
Stating that the YSRC leaders should thank him with folded hands whenever he comes across them, Pawan Kalyan said, “Before the 2019 elections, like in 2014 elections, if I would have gone to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu (to forge an electoral alliance), the fate of the YSRC leaders should be something different.” I was forced to differ with PM Narendra Modi on the SCS as per the aspirations of people of Andhra Pradesh,” he asserted.
Speaking of not having a tie-up with Telugu Desam during elections, he admitted that he was not willing to join hands with that party as he criticized the TD chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu before elections.
Claiming that he also got an invitation from the YSRC for a pact during elections, Pawan Kalyan said he does not want to reveal the names of the leaders who approached him to have a pact with the YSRC.
On a poser over his recent praises on BJP president Amit Shah, he said he respected the BJP leader whereas the YSRC was afraid of him. Responding to a question on when his party is going to align with saffron party, he said, “I don’t know.”
Speaking on the contentious issue of religious conversions, Pawan Kalyan said he is a strong believer of secularism. “Like raising my voice for the rights of other religions, I will raise my voice for protecting my own religion. When I came out of Tirumala temple today after having darshan, people complained that religious conversion activists are going unhindered in Tirumala. I will stand to protect my religion. I will raise my voice for protecting Sanatana Hindu Dharma,” he said.
Lashing out at the leaders hailing from Hindu religion in the YSRC as ‘pseudo-secularists’, he asked such leaders to speak out against the religious conversions taking place in the state. “Religious conversion of as many as 40 persons took place at the river Krishna Pushkar Ghat about 10 kilometres away from the Chief Minister’s residence. The conversions took place right in front of the famous Goddess Kanaka Durga temple,” he lamented.
Reacting sharply to Pawan Kalyan’s comments, AP State Home Minister Mekathoti Sucharitha said the JSP chief is a person who changes his party allies often. “No forcible conversions have taken place in the State. Similarly, people can not be bribed to change his/her religion,” she asserted.