Banking on PM Modi, BJP eyes big gains in Telangana, but is in disarray in AP

Hyderabad, Jan 20 – Despite failing to achieve its ‘Mission 2023’ in Telangana, the BJP is gearing up to improve its performance in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, even as it faces an uphill task in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, which is heading for simultaneous polls.

The BJP could not reach its goal of capturing power in Telangana but the party is not disappointed either over its performance as it improved both its seat count and poll percentage compared to 2018.

Banking on the Modi factor, the saffron party is now looking to improve on its performance in both 2019 Lok Sabha and 2023 Assembly polls.

Political analysts say in south India, Telangana will be the second important state for the BJP after Karnataka.

Unlike Assembly polls, where the main contest was between the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and the Congress, the Lok Sabha elections will see a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP.

Political analysts forecast that the tally of the BRS, which had won nine out of 17 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, may reduce to 1-2.

In 2023 Assembly elections, the BJP almost doubled its vote share compared to 2018 polls. The saffron party significantly improved its tally of seats from one to eight.

The BJP also managed to double its vote share from 6.98 per cent in 2018 to almost 14 per cent. However, compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the vote share of BJP has come down.

This time, the BJP contested 111 seats and left eight for its ally Jana Sena Party (JSP), which drew a blank.

The saffron party had won just a single seat in the 2018 Assembly elections. It had later improved its tally to three after winning two seats in the by-elections.

The state BJP leadership has already made it clear that for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, it will not have alliance with any party.

During his first visit to Hyderabad after Assembly elections last month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked the Telangana BJP unit to ensure that the party win more than 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state. He asked the party workers to work hard to achieve the goal of more than 10 seats and 35 per cent vote share.

As part of its poll preparation, the BJP has announced in-charges for all 17 Lok Sabha constituencies. All eight newly-elected MLAs of the party and a Rajya Sabha MP are among those made in-charges.

State BJP chief G. Kishan Reddy, who is also a Union Minister, recently stated the BJP has finalised 50 per cent of the party candidates for Lok Sabha elections.

In 2019, the BJP had polled 19.45 per cent votes and bagged four out of 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state. It had contested alone and this was the highest number of seats won by the party in two decades.

The BJP bagged four seats in 1998 and seven seats in 1999 in united Andhra Pradesh. It drew a blank in 2004 and 2009. In 2014, the BJP secured one seat when Bandaru Dattatreya won from Secunderabad.

With impressive performance in the previous Lok Sabha elections, the BJP not only retained Secunderabad but also won Nizamabad, Karimnagar, and Adilabad.

In the recent Assembly election, the BJP won six seats that fall in Adilabad and Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituencies.

However, all the three MPs of the party suffered defeat in Assembly elections.

Adilabad MP Soyam Bapu Rao lost the Boath Assembly seat and Nizamabad MP Dharmapuri Arvind too suffered defeat in Koratla constituency.

BJP General Secretary and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar failed to win Karimnagar Assembly seat. The BJP also drew a blank in the Assembly segments falling under Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat. The party also failed to win a single Assembly seat falling under Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency which is represented by Kishan Reddy.

The BJP leaders, however, are confident of bettering their performance in the coming Lok Sabha elections. They believe that the voting pattern in Lok Sabha will be different due to the Modi factor.

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy believes that with the BRS no longer in power in Telangana, it will become irrelevant in Lok Sabha polls. “It is very much evident that the BRS will be relegate to third place. It will not have any standing,” he said

He said that the Parliament elections will be fought on who will become the Prime Minister or what the state will get if a particular party or coalition comes to power at the Centre. “The voter thinks on those lines and since the BRS is not even in power in the state, it will become irrelevant,” he said.

The BJP will go to the voters seeking a fresh mandate for Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister. “The BJP’s narrative will be around Modi. They will tell the voters that their vote will be for an individual MP but for Modi as the Prime Minister for another term,” he said.

The saffron party is likely to go to voters with the image of Ayodhya by projecting construction of Ram temple as a major achievement. The party leaders have already tried to capitalise on this by putting up huge banners and hoardings across the state with the images of the temple and Lord Ram. However, the analysts say this will not be the main vote catcher for the party.

The BJP leadership has worked out a strategy to take to the people various development and welfare schemes implemented by the BJP-led government at the Centre during the last 10 years.

The saffron party has also undertaken a programme to reach out to local celebrities. Amit Shah’s meetings with popular actors like Jr NTR and Ram Charan are seen as part of this effort.

After targeting BRS over alleged minority appeasement, the BJP leaders are likely to use the same strategy against Congress party for polarisation of votes.

In Assembly elections, the BJP had promised to end four per cent reservation enjoyed by the backwards among Muslims. It also vowed to bring Uniform Civil Code. It had also promised that it will officially celebrate September 17 as Hyderabad Liberation Day.

The saffron party reiterates its stand on these issues to draw the mileage.

It was on September 17, 1948 that the then Hyderabad State merged with the Indian Union following military action ‘Operation Polo’.

Unlike Telangana, BJP appears nowhere on the scene in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh where the political space is occupied by regional players.

The BJP’s vote share in 2019 polls was less than one per cent and the situation has not changed for the party. Analysts say BJP will have to wait in Andhra Pradesh.

The saffron party is still in a dilemma on joining the TDP-JSP alliance to take on ruling YSRCP.

Though the BJP appointed former Union Minister D. Purandeswari, daughter of TDP founder and former Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao, state party chief last year, the move is yet to yield any political benefit for the party.

Unlike in Telangana, both the national parties are insignificant in Andhra Pradesh. With Y.S. Sharmila joining its ranks, the Congress is likely to see an improvement in its vote share to 4-5 per cent from about two per cent in 2019. The BJP, however, appears clueless and finds itself in an embarrassing situation with its ally JSP unilaterally joining hands with the TDP.

ms/vd

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