The recent assembly polls showed that the BJP’s stock was down in Telangana; in Andhra Pradesh it is frowned upon for denying special category status.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing a serious crisis in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. A few months away from general elections, the chances of retaining or winning new seats are slim for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. That’s the bad news for the party; the good news for the BJP is that both the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) might not have it easy in either of the states.
In 2014, the BJP won three of the combined 42 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana after joining hands with ally-turned-bitter-rival TDP. Though the BJP won an impressive 282 seats across India, its performance in the newly-bifurcated states was not the best compared to previous terms.
BJP’s lost opportunity
In the last four-and-a-half years this was expected to change, especially with the RSS favourites and top BJP strategists Ram Madhav and Muralidhar Rao (who hail from these states) strengthening the party. That did not happen. On the contrary, in the recently-held state elections in Telangana, the BJP’s representation came down to just one from five MLA’s in 2014. In Andhra Pradesh too they seem to be in trouble, as the party is facing the heat for failing to grant the state a special category status.
However, not all is lost for the saffron party.
In these two states, the BJP is not expecting to win a significant number of seats, but it will work to ensure that its main opponents lose a great deal. In other words, the BJP would like to pull down with it the Congress in Telangana and the TDP in Andhra Pradesh. A bad show for the Congress and the TDP in these two states will weaken the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance).
On Sunday, Modi participated in BJP’s Praja Chaitanya Sabha in Guntur near Amaravathi, Andhra Pradesh’s capital. Being former allies it was easier for Modi to accuse Naidu of amassing wealth from the development funds sanctioned by the Centre for the state. Modi also said that Naidu parted ways with the BJP because he did not like being held accountable. The second half of Modi’s speech on Sunday gives a clear hint that in the days ahead Naidu and his close associates will be repeatedly attacked on corruption charges.
In Telangana, both the BJP and K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) have a common enemy in the Congress. The TRS would want to keep the Congress, which is the main opposition in Telangana, at bay — this suits the BJP as long as the Congress does not win considerable number of Lok Sabha seats from the state.
The ground realities
In Andhra Pradesh, both the state and general elections will take place simultaneously. In the process of trying to boost his image and play a key role in Delhi, Naidu is utilising all his energy, resources and time on fighting the BJP, which is an insignificant player in state politics. Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the YSR Congress, is gaining ground in Andhra Pradesh. YSRC leader YS Jagan Reddy’s one-year-long padayatra and the increasing anti-incumbency has made him the frontrunner for the CM’s post — an indicator reflected in various surveys by different agencies.
Actor Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena is still to make any mark even though the star has been holding rallies and meetings for some time now.
Though the Congress has said that it will contest on its own, it most certainly has a secret understanding with the TDP in some seats to benefit the grand alliance. Thus, Andhra Pradesh is likely to witness a multi-cornered contest with the TDP, the YSRCP, the BJP, the Congress and the Jana Sena in the fray with no open tie-ups for the 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats.
In Telangana, the TRS is brimming with confidence because of its recent win in the state elections. It looks like its victory run will continue even in the general elections as it is poised to win a majority of 17 seats. The Congress, the TDP and the BJP will have to fight really hard for whatever little chance they have for winning the remaining seats.
In the days ahead it will be clear which party joins which alliance: the anti-BJP Mahagathbandhan or the anti-BJP, anti-Congress federal front. While Naidu is trying to be the architect for the grand alliance, Rao has been voicing support for the federal front. Supporting Rao is Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. The YSRCP has also been invited to join the federal front, but Jagan is yet to commit.
For now, it is safe to assume that every political party is on its own in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Amar Devulapalli is a Hyderabad-based senior journalist. Views are personalFor more Opinion pieces, click here.