BJP dreams of blazing successful Tirupati political trail in AP

Updated December 13, 2020

social social social social BJP dreams of blazing successful Tirupati political trail in AP


Amaravati, Dec 13 (IANS) Pinning high hopes on Andhra Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to commence its political conquest of the southern state from Tirupati.

"Saffron's first stop in AP is Tirupati. After the spectacular surge in Telangana, now people of Tirupati are showing their inclination towards BJP," claimed Sunil Deodhar, BJP national secretary and co-incharge for the state.

Balli Durga Prasad, the sitting MP from ruling Yuvaja Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) succumbed to coronavirus recently, giving an opportunity for the national party to seriously test the Telugu political waters for the long haul.

The vacancy in the temple town presented itself as an unexpected opportunity for BJP as occupying the Parliament seat in Tirupati will have a massive symbolic value, mirroring Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding Varanasi constituency.

On Saturday, the party held its state executive meeting in Tirupati, which was started with Deepa Prajwalan (lighting the lamp) and Vandemataram.

It was the first state executive meeting after constituting several appointments to the party.

"This was the first state executive meeting. We deliberated on several issues such as the current and future politics of the state," said AP BJP president Somu Veerraju.

Following the meeting, BJP took out a rally in Tirupati, which according to Veerraju was attended by BJP activists as well as common Tirupati folk.

"My special thanks to Tirupati people for exhibiting enthusiasm to trounce corrupt family parties," he said.

Family parties here refer to YSRCP and Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Since the early 1980s, AP has been mostly a two-party state, Congress and TDP. However, Congress imploded under the visionless adventurous opportunism displayed by Sonia Gandhi.

YSRCP has emerged as one of the identifiable political forces, along with TDP as Congress lost its base and is as good as non-existent, though some people like Harsha Kumar envision otherwise.

Now this is where BJP wants to carve a niche for itself to make it big in the future in AP, which the hustings will tell.

If we assume that YSRCP has replaced Congress and TDP has its original base intact, it remains to be seen where BJP wants to sneak in, as there is not much political room available in a traditionally two-party state, though Left parties and others exist with not much of an impact.

However, BJP has high hopes on its local ally Janasena, run by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan, with not so impressive political track record.

After a belligerent campaign in which he endorsed himself as the chief ministerial candidate, Kalyan lost both the seats he contested in the 2019 elections, including failing to win the loyalty of the lone party MLA who sings paeans to the welfare-centric AP Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Some political pundits say that BJP can benefit from Kalyan's image in Tirupati as the caste factor could play a key role, which many believe helped Chiranjeevi save face in the 2009 elections with a win in Tirupati, though he embarrassingly lost in his home district from where his in-laws and relatives hail - Palakollu.

To make matters a little tricky, politics do not have the undivided attention of Kalyan as he keeps himself busy with acting in movies now and then.

Politics and movies may not complement each other as successfully as legal profession and politics gelled together, evident from several successful stories of top lawyers straddling both the political and legal worlds at a time.

We have to wait and see if Kalyan is capable of bucking this trend. People are also watching if a BJP candidate will be fielded or a Janasena candidate, considering the latter withdrew from competition in GHMC elections at the behest of the former.

There is still time for the national party to fine tune its strategy, considering the Election Commission is yet to schedule the Tirupati by-election.

TDP has declared its candidate while some say YSRCP has already zeroed in on its candidate without announcing. Bypoll aside, BJP is busy laying the base in a state where it is not as established as local YSRCP or TDP.

Brainstorming sessions at various geographies, attacking the ruling and opposition parties, poaching leaders and others are some of the tactics being followed by BJP.

On Friday, the saffron party onboarded former MLA and YSRCP leader Neeraja Reddy from Kurnool into its fold.

"YSRCP and TDP leaders from Bobbili in Vizianagaram have joined BJP. From YSRCP, Nagireddy Vijay Kumar and TDP media coordinator T. Balram and others have been invited into the party," said Veerraju.

As part of his three-day visit to Rayalaseema, Veerraju held a meeting at Bairagipattedda mandal on Saturday, including a few more earlier at Railwaykodur, Kadapa, Anantapur and others.

Strengthening Veerraju and other state leaders, Deodhar has been spending a significant amount of time in the Telugu state, mingling with the locals.

In a bid to endear himself to the local people, Deodhar broke bread with a family which has priestly association with the Tirupati temple.

Deodhar also meets local godmen, speaks regularly at party meetings and exalts Modi regularly to win the hearts of the Telugu people.

How much Andhra people will get swayed by projecting Modi's image will emerge in the by-election result, even as most Telugu people cannot directly understand a Hindi-speaking Modi, whose magic may get lost in translation.

Deodhar claimed that BJP Rajya Sabha MP G.V.L. Narasimha Rao explained at a meeting how all 'visible' development in AP in the last six years was due to the Central government's schemes and efforts, aimed at completely negating the state government's role.

The stakes are really high for the Tirupati bypoll, where a win for BJP which is boosted by Dubbaka election victory and Hyderabad civic body polls inroads, will give it a shot in the arm.

Unlike the northern states, Andhra is different terrain altogether. It is a beacon of communal harmony and an epitome of secularism, where attempts to inflame passions by outsiders in the aftermath of Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple chariot blaze utterly failed.

There is also a large chunk of Christian population and also Muslim voter base which have not yet been wooed by the BJP.

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