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From One Extreme to Other: How BJP is choosing contrasting allies in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy is facing a dilemma — to join or not to join National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP. It is heard that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants his party, YSRCP, to join the NDA. While the YSRCP Chief is tempted to take the offer, local political considerations are preventing him from joining the NDA.
 
Jagan who met the PM in New Delhi earlier this week, declined to comment on the outcome. However, it is clear that the BJP also needs YSRCP’s support in Rajya Sabha to pass bills. Therefore, the need works both ways for now! 
 
After aligning with Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) between 2014 and 2018, the BJP became adamant to AP’s demands after promises of the Centre were broken in helping a revenue-deficit state which was suffering from the aftermath of a bitter bifurcation.
 
Following this bitterness and lack of any word from the Centre on Special Status and a range of issues, the TDP walked out of the NDA in 2018 while there was a proposal to rope in YSRCP. But, Jagan did not show much interest then. 
 
Currently, the fear among Jagan and his aides is that if they join the NDA (meaning BJP), they fear losing a crucial chunk of Muslims and Christian votebank which could be a huge risk at this point. 
 
Given that the BJP & its allies’ Hindutva propagation is reaching new heights everyday in the current political scenario, the YSRCP is thinking hard from this angle. Moreover, minorities, who constitute over 10% of the total population in Andhra Pradesh, are hardcore backers of Jaganmohan Reddy.
 
Additionally, it is believed that joining the NDA may put YSRCP at a lower position where he may not have the same leverage with the Centre. Jagan is apparently looking at sticking to issue-based support to the BJP as far as his politics go. This is because he also wants to tread carefully before being blamed for the Centre’s faults. 
 
However, there are a range of issues that may put YSRCP to compromise and become a part of the NDA if the Centre chooses to go hard on Jagan. One, as someone who is accused in one of India’s high-profile corruption cases and served his term in jail while he continues to still visit courts, the Centre may always use this as its tool to threaten Jagan with another “jail term.” 
 
Two, if the Centre wants to be nice to the YSRCP, it will boost the false propaganda created by the YSRCP against TDP and its Chief on Amaravati and purposely issue an order for CBI probe into the land pooling issue. Three, the Centre may snub Jagan and may continue to use Pawan Kalyan as a bait whenever necessary while he still struggles to make a place for himself in the current political situation. 
 
Either way, it is a well-known fact that the YSRCP needs the Centre and BJP’s support to keep Jagan out of jail, first. Additionally, it also requires the Centre’s support for generous funding of the ongoing projects in Andhra Pradesh. Further, the BJP also wants to go against the TDP in any way possible. So, it chose the YSRCP to get back at its political enemy, the TDP. 
 
While the BJP’s ambitions in Andhra Pradesh continue to grow by the day despite not having a single seat, it is clear that the saffron party will go to any extent possible to spread its Hindutva politics. This also shows how the BJP chose two extremely contrasting parties to ally with. Earlier, it was with the TDP which the BJP earlier was a friend of. Now, it is the YSRCP, which is ideologically on the opposite end of the BJP. 
 
The BJP has already lost several allies across India — from Akali Dal in Punjab to its strong ally Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. It remains to be seen how it will play with YSRCP. Whatever side the BJP chooses and dictates terms, this could go either way for the party in AP. It may either revive TDP’s chances and give a huge boost to Chandrababu Naidu or it may completely die down if YSRCP goes full ballistic in the next election. 
 
If the YSRCP chooses to join the NDA, then it would mark a major shift in Andhra Pradesh’s politics and be an example of an alliance between ideologically Hindutva-opposing party and the BJP. This alliance may also be a first of its kind for introducing religious politics/divide in a state that has a history of caste-driven politics. Going by the initial observation, YSRCP-BJP marriage may not last long even if it happens! 
 

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