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Why BJP is struggling create foothold in AP

To understand this, one needs to go back in time to understand (united and divided) Andhra Pradesh’s politics. Historically, Congress has had a stronghold in the state after Andhra Pradesh’s formation in 1956. There was the Janata Party which existed and was the opposition party in the state led by Jaipal Reddy, Venkaiah Naidu, etc until TDP’s entry. (Jaipal Reddy joined Congress and Venkaiah Naidu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party).
 
But, in the 1980s when India was witnessing the rise of regional parties, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was formed on an anti-Congress plank and the sentiment of “atma gauravam” (self-respect of the Telugus). Due to TDP Founder and former Chief Minister, Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao’s (NTR) popularity and crowd-pulling capacity, the party won people’s mandate and continued to strengthen its position in the state as one of the major parties.
 
Since then, the Telugu politics witnessed Congress and TDP as two principal parties in the state while BJP almost, always allied with the TDP and was hardly negligible in its presence. However, following bifurcation, political equations have changed in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 
 
Until 2019, BJP struggled to make inroads in both the Telugu States, despite aligning with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh between 2014 and 2018. Following a bitter break-up between TDP and BJP in early 2018, BJP’s ambitions to enter Telugu states got stronger, perhaps in a vengeful way. 
 
In 2018 during the Assembly elections in Telangana, BJP made its small but significant presence in the state while in Andhra Pradesh, it couldn’t find a foothold. However, internally, it aligned with the YSR Congress Party in the state which swept the polls. Despite all their efforts, BJP still faces a challenge in establishing its presence in the South, despite all their efforts. 
 
So, why is BJP not so effective in the South?
 
  • Unlike North India, religion or religious politics do not play a key role in the South. In the South, regional parties have had their stronghold — AP & Telangana are dominated by the YSRCP, TDP, Jana Sena, TRS and Congress. Tamilnadu by the AIADMK and DMK, Kerala by the Left Parties. Karnataka is the only except in the South where BJP has a foothold due to the support of the Lingayat Community. 
 
  • People in the South are driven more by regionalism than religion due to a difference in demography, language, etc. Also, there is an impression in the South that BJP is a North-based party, focussed on the Hindi-speaking belt of India which is a deterrent to the South.
 
  • Politics in the North is very different from politics in the South. High literacy, advanced economic development compared to the North, progressive policies and socially aware people make the South diverse from the North. So, the BJP cannot apply the same methods of politicking in the South.
 
That is one of the reasons why BJP will not be able to have a majority in AP. Post bifurcation too, the contest has been between TDP and YSRCP in the state. 
 
Meanwhile, the Congress has been wiped out from Andhra Pradesh for bifurcating it against the interests of Andhra-Rayalaseema region people. With the Special Status issue and other issues of not fulfilling the promises of bifurcation, BJP is facing the same heat that Congress faced for bifurcating the state. This issue also has made the BJP look like it doesn’t care about the South. 
 
The discriminatory treatment of the Modi government towards South Indian States also has worsened (since 2014) how Southern states feel about the BJP. From not providing funds to getting a raw deal in every year's Budget, the South remains Centre’s neglected child. With this feeling brewing across Southern leaders and political parties, it will be a tough task for the BJP to convince South Indians, either to gain their trust or make inroads! 
 

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