What is BJP’s fate in Andhra after Karnataka loss?
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been trying to expand its base in Andhra Pradesh, faced a setback when it lost Karnataka to the Congress. In the recently concluded elections. The party had hoped to use Karnataka as a springboard to gain influence in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. Where it had allied with the TDP in 2014 and won four MLA seats and two MP seats. However, the alliance broke down in 2018 over the issue of special category status for Andhra Pradesh. Which the BJP-led central government did not grant.
Since then, the BJP has been struggling to find a foothold in Andhra Pradesh. Where it faces stiff competition from the ruling YSRCP, led by Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, and the opposition TDP, led by N. Chandrababu Naidu. The BJP has zero legislators and parliamentarians in the state, and its vote. Share dropped from 7.2% in 2014 to 0.84% in 2019. The party has also failed to attract any prominent leaders from other parties or castes, which play a crucial role in Andhra politics.
The BJP’s national leadership, however, has not given up on Andhra Pradesh, and has formed a 13-member committee to devise a strategy to come to power in 2024. The party has also been trying to woo the JSP, led by actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan. Who has a considerable following among the youth and the Kapu community. The JSP had contested alone in 2019 and won one MLA seat and seven MP seats.
The BJP hopes to capitalise on the anti-incumbency factor against the YSRCP government. Which has been accused of corruption, nepotism, and authoritarianism by its rivals. The party also hopes to exploit the dissatisfaction among some sections of the society over the YSRCP’s decision to create three capitals for Andhra Pradesh – Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool – instead of one. The party also plans to highlight the central government’s schemes and projects for the state’s development.
The BJP’s challenge, however, is to convince the people of Andhra Pradesh. That it can deliver on its promises and address their aspirations. With Karnataka gone, the focus will now be on Telugu states. The party also needs to find a charismatic leader who can match. Up to Chandrababu Naidu or Jagan, who have a stronghold over their respective votebanks. The party also needs to overcome its image of being a north Indian party that does not understand or respect the culture and sentiments of south India.
The BJP’s performance in Andhra Pradesh will have a significant impact on the national political scenario as well. The state has 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 assembly seats, which can make or break any coalition at the centre or state level. The BJP’s success or failure in Andhra Pradesh will also reflect its ability to expand its presence beyond its traditional strongholds and appeal to diverse regions and communities.
TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.