Friendless in Andhra Pradesh: BJP stares at a rout in Assembly polls

Political observers say that due to the delay in granting Special Status, the BJP stands no chance in the Andhra assembly elections.
Friendless in Andhra Pradesh: BJP stares at a rout in Assembly polls
Friendless in Andhra Pradesh: BJP stares at a rout in Assembly polls
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Andhra Pradesh finds itself friendless and alone with all the regional parties keeping an arm's length away from being associated with the national party. Political observers say the BJP will be “decimated” in the upcoming state assembly elections, which are expected to be held in April or May this year.

In the 2014 Andhra Pradesh elections, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) came to power winning 102 of the 176 assembly seats in the state. The TDP was then in alliance with the BJP that had managed to win just 4 seats and had outside support from the Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena. Four and half years later, that alliance has formally ended.

Both TDP and the Jana Sena hold the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) accountable for not delivering on the promised Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh after the state was bifurcated to form Telangana. 

As a result, in the upcoming Assembly elections, the BJP has no one left to turn to. 

Earlier in 2018, when the YSRCP MLA Buggana Rajendranath Reddy met with the BJP National General Secretary Ram Mahadev, it was widely speculated that the BJP was entering into some kind of understanding with them.

However, YV Subba Reddy, the YSRCP Member of Parliament, made it clear that their party would not be entering into any alliance, be it with the BJP or with the Congress. Speaking to TNM, he said, “Our party president had made it clear long back that we will not be going for an alliance and will contest alone. We will not go for an alliance with the BJP or with the Congress or with any other party for that matter. Both BJP and Congress have damaged Andhra Pradesh and done injustice to the state.” 

Jana Sena who had earlier supported the TDP-BJP alliance, too has distanced itself from both the parties. Earlier in January, Pawan entered into a formal alliance with the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) to contest assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. 

With potential allies drying up, the BJP now sits on the fringe of Andhra politics and stares at a possible wipe-out in the state, say political analysts and the BJP is aware of this too.

When BJP MLA Vishnu Raju was asked if the party finds itself isolated and how they plan to get out of this situation, he said, “As far as we are concerned, though we look isolated, we have our own strength. As to why we became isolated in the eyes of the public, its only because of the negative propaganda by the state government, even though we have fulfilled the majority (90%) of the promises as per the Bifurcation Act. Even though 10 years time is there a majority of the promises have been completed in the short four and a half years. Keep in mind that no state has got so much funds, educational institutions or health-related institutions like AIIMS. No state after independence has got this much support.”

To the question of how the party has worked in the last four years to build a cadre base in the state and gather support to become a formidable force, the leader was evasive. He replied saying, “In 2014, since BJP was in alliance with the TDP and also with Jana Sena, this brought the TDP to power, otherwise there was no way at all. That was the situation back then but the situation is slightly different now. The TDP, which was established to fight the Congress, is with the Congress now and that means these people do not have any ethics or moral values or party ideology. Their party ideology is opportunistic in nature. When Jagan Mohan Reddy's popularity starting increasing in Andhra, the TDP thought that unless they take up some issue and go to the public, they won't have a chance in the 2019 election, and so they took up the Special Status issue and made a U-turn,” he added.

But all is not lost for the Andhra BJP. There is still a ray of hope as the YSRCP is open to a post-poll alliance with anyone who forms a government at the Centre and will give the Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh. 

“After the Lok Sabha election, we do not know what the situation will be then. We will see who comes to power at the Centre, who gets more seats and who is coming forward to help Andhra Pradesh to get Special Status and help with other issues. We will support them after the election. But whatever the BJP and Congress are doing, we are not going to fall into their trap,” said Subba Reddy.

Political analysts, however, have written off the BJP in the Andhra elections. 

Political analyst K Nageshwar Rao who has been keenly observing Andhra politics, said, “Nobody will join the BJP. They will be totally decimated and won’t even get a single seat. All their nationalism and reservation policies will work in north India but won’t work in Andhra or in Telangana.” 

The analyst added that in the Telangana elections held in December 2018, the Telangana BJP was reduced from five seats to just one seat. This, despite two campaign visits to Telangana by the BJP’s star campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

“We have seen in Telangana how they contested there, even their party president was defeated and lost deposits. If this is the position in Telangana, it will be the same in Andhra. At least in Telangana, they could argue that they too were responsible for the formation of the state but with respect to Andhra, due to the delay in Special Status, they stand no chance,” Rao said.  

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