scoresheet—it got four out of 17 seats
in Telangana, but drew a blank in
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and
Kerala. With a firm foothold in
Karnataka and Telangana, the party
is looking to expand in a big way in
the south. For that, it is taking cues
from the impressive victories in West
Bengal and Odisha, where it bagged
18 out of 42 and five of 21 seats,
respectively. Enough lessons have
been learnt from past follies and its
time to script a new south story, say
the BJP leaders in charge of the
southern region. The focus has now
been shifted to the assembly elec
tions and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The south—Tamil Nadu, Andhra
Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala,
Karna taka and Pondicherry—
accounts for 130 Lok Sabha seats.
Speaking about expansion plans in
the region, Rajya Sabha MP G.V.L.
Narasi mha Rao of the BJP says the
party has set an ambitious target of
adding 20 per cent more members in
each state. A massive membership
drive has already been launched.
“We expect that the south will con
tribute to the 2024 Lok Sabha res
ults just the way Odisha and Bengal
did in 2019. We expect the two
Telugu states and Kerala to deliver a
large number of seats,” says Rao.
In keeping with its southern ambi
tions, the BJP is also looking to shed
its image as a north Indian party.
Party leaders acknowledge that they
have to overcome some hurdles in
the region, mainly due to linguistic,
geographic, historic and religious
factors, for making the desired
perceptual change possible.
Admitting that drawing more people
from the south into the BJP demands
bridging the northsouth gap, senior
leader Lalitha Kumaramangalam
says the party is looking at solutions
such as promoting competent south
ern leaders at the Centre. “We need
to pay more attention to local
demands and the problems of the
states. We are mulling the interlink
ing of rivers to benefit the Cauvery
delta farmers and its riverine states.
We will also address the neglect of
the major southern metropolises
such as Bangalore and Chennai,”
Political observers feel that as the
BJP’s narrative of Hindutva fails to
make any impact in the southern
states, it may experiment with caste
based mobilisation instead. Analysts
trace the BJP’s rise in Karnataka to
the split in the Janata Dal in the late
1990s, which started the gradual
shifting of the electorally important
Lingayat community towards the
BJP led by former CM B.S.
29 july 2019 OutlOOk 13
The BJP is gaining ground
BJP has 27 in
as 10 of Congress’s
15 MLAs join party
Rift in Congress-JD(S)
opens BJP’s chance at
BJP’s target is to double
its membership; lure
Congress, CPI(M) workers
BJP plans to strengthen
alliances in state
BJP attracts leaders
from TDP, Congress.
Target: 2.5 million
BJP’s goal is 3.6 million
new members; TDP,
Congress and TRS
Map by saji c.s.