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Can BJP pull off a Dubbaka in Tirupati Bypoll?

The BJP has intensified its campaign for the April 17 Tirupati Lok Sabha by-election. After winning the Dubbaka by-poll in Telangana, the saffron party, which is banking on the various development programmes going on in the temple city under various Central schemes, wants to spring a surprise in Andhra Pradesh by winning the seat, defeating both the ruling YSRCP and the Opposition, TDP. 
 
The party started groundwork in the constituency for the bypoll much earlier and organised state-level meetings in Tirupati recently. BJP State chief Somu Veerraju held many review meetings with leaders and cadre.  It may be noted that, in the 1999 general elections, BJP candidate Dr N. Venkataswamy bagged the seat with 48.89 per cent of votes when it contested along with the TDP.  
 
The BJP has fielded K. Ratna Prabha, former Karnataka Chief Secretary, as its candidate for the Tirupati bypoll. The party has formed a 24-member committee to oversee the election campaign. “BJP MPs and other senior leaders welcomed the selection of Ratna Prabha as the candidate for the Tirupati bypoll. Ratna Prabha has served the State in various capacities during her tenure as an IAS official. Both BJP and Jana Sena leaders will work together for Ratna Prabha’s victory in the by-election,” Somu Veerraju said. 
 
Though BJP and Jana Sena are in alliance, political experts say that there is no coordination between the two parties in the election campaign. But, according to sources, BJP leaders are apparently not discussing its campaign strategy with the Jana Sena leaders in Nellore district. 
 
In fact, the Jana Sena has some hold in Nellore city. Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan has a strong bonding with Nellore. Pawan Kalyan stayed in Nellore when his father was working with the Excise department and he was a student of St Joseph School and VR College in Nellore city. 
 
It may be recalled that Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) nominee M. Sridhar Krishna Reddy bagged Nellore city Assembly seat in 2009 in a three-cornered fight involving the Congress and TDP.  “The BJP is not taking the Jana Sena leaders into confidence in some areas and it is not informing the JSP about the poll meetings. The BJP leaders are not coordinating with us,” said a Jana Sena leader. 
 
On the other hand, amidst rumours of a break-up between the BJP and Jana Sena, K. Ratna Prabha, who has filed her nomination in Nellore yesterday, said Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan would participate in the election campaign. 
 
Responding to the allegations of corruption made by CPI leader K .Narayana against her, she refuted them sternly and asked Narayana to prove the same. Explaining the development activities taken up by the BJP, Ratna Prabha said the Union government has laid focus on developing the Tirupati city. 
 
However, it is still a surprise as to how the BJP will approach people in the state, given that there is already seething anger against the saffron party with respect to several issues related to the state along with the recent protests against the privatisation of the steel plant. 
 
On the other hand, analysts predict that BJP may spring up a surprise towards the days nearing the poll where it completely flips the political narrative into a religious one and stirs controversies to swing votes in its favour, just the way it did in Dubbaka Bypoll in Telangana. 

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