High on Dubbaka by-election victory in Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aims to replicate that performance in Andhra Pradesh's forthcoming Tirupati bypoll. Andhra Pradesh is one of the four unconquered states in south India for the BJP. The party's local president Somu Veerraju is continuously working to take the national party into the masses for wider acceptance and electoral dividends, and in the process attacking the ruling YSRCP and TDP.
He need not worry about Congress as there is no competition from the national party which is going on an election losing spree under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
"There is no difference between the MLAs during the rule of Chandrababu (Naidu) and Jagan (Mohan Reddy). Both are corrupt. In the name of housing sites, crores of rupees have been sidelined," Veerraju said recently.
He called the YSRCP and TDP as dynastic parties which are selfish in nature unlike the BJP and Janasena, local ally, which can lead the state into the path of development.
Veerraju also claimed that the state government under Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is failing to showcase Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph even after taking thousands of crores of central government funds.
In addition to upping the ante on the local parties, the BJP is also conducting many contact programmes with the local people. The party is regularly organising sessions for its cadres at various places in the southern state.
On Monday, sessions were held at Sullurupeta in Nellore district, and in Tirupati on Sunday. Earlier, sessions were held in Rajamundry, Amalapuram, Kakinada and other places.To aid, advise and fortify the Telugu BJP leadership, the party's national secretary Sunil Deodhar is spending considerable time and energy in Andhra Pradesh.
"The BJP karyakartas (workers) are charged up after the party's victory in Bihar and invarious bypolls, especially after the astounding victory in Dubbak in Telangana. It's now the turn of Andhra Pradesh, where people are fed up with the family enterprises of TDP and YSRCP," Deodhar said recently.
On November 12, he addressed party sessions for the Srikalahasti assembly leaders and also activists from the Tirupati organisational district.
However, it remains to be seen how excited the Telugu people will be to welcome another national party, considering the bifurcation and special status disappointments at the hands of both the BJP and Congress.
Will they also want another national party lording over them with its high command in Delhi meting out step-motherly treatment?
The Tirupati Parliamentary constituency bypoll results can be an answer to all these burning questions.
"BJP has no cadre in Andhra Pradesh. It is not easy for another national party to take the place of Congress which imploded under Sonia Gandhi's visionless opportunism," YSRCP leader Talluri Raj Kumar told IANS.
Kumar asserted that Reddy is ruling in such a fashion with so many welfare schemes that another party may find it extremely difficult to squeeze in.
Likewise, the BJP may also find it difficult to capture audiences which mirror its ideology as the southern state is vastly an epitome of religious tolerance.
"Unlike several places in India, BJP's formula of pitting one community against another for electoral dividends will not work in Andhra," observed Kumar.
It also remains to be seen as to how helpful the alliance with local ally Janasena proves to be as its leader and Tollywood actor Pawan Kalyan had also exhibited streaks of dynastic politics when he fielded his own brother in Narasapuram in the 2019 Parliamentary election.
"Kalyan is a man of turnarounds. He castigated the BJP and now is in alliance with it. During Praja Rajyam time, he censured TDP to only work for its victory in 2014. He is not contesting in the GHMC polls. I am not understanding what he wants to do," Kumar said.
Kalyan also vowed that he would not return to acting but broke that promise, losing one leader after another from Janasena, including former CBI joint director VV Lakshminarayana.
The saffron party also lacks recognisable local faces compared to the TDP and YSRCP. There is a Naidu and a powerful legacy of NT Rama Rao for the TDP, there is a Jagan Mohan Reddy and the legacy of YS Rajasekhar Reddy for the YSRCP, along with scores of political leaders in both parties with decades of experience, something that the state BJP lacks.
Veerraju is not that popular a political figure for the Telugu masses, and lacks oratorical skills to give speeches that may resonate with the Telugu people.
However, if the BJP still manages to win Tirupati, which fell vacant due to the untimely death of Balli Durga Prasad, there may be no looking back.
The bypoll in Tirupati will be a test to whatever Reddy is doing with his welfare schemes. The YSRCP government's schemes will be put to test in the election, indicating their acceptance level.
Meanwhile, the BJP and YSRCP are yet to declare a candidate for the yet to be scheduled bypoll while TDP has projected Panabaka Lakshmi for the bypoll.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)