Outlook – July 28, 2019

(Axel Boer) #1

14 OutlOOk 29 july 2019

Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat leader. The
Vokkaligas, another populous commu­
nity, are largely seen to back the JD(S),
but the recent Lok Sabha results sug­
gest that the BJP could have emerged
as an option for some sections of the
community, reckons political scientist
Valerian Rodrigues. “The elite of the
Vokkaliga community is strongly with
the BJP,” he tells Outlook. “Political
ambition and alienation of sorts led
the Lingayats to the BJP, but with the
Vokkaligas, the party has built up a
religious kind of nexus.”
Rodrigues feels the BJP is following
a strong regional, community and
caste­wise strategy to strengthen
itself in the south, most visibly in
Telangana and among some of the
OBC castes in southern Tamil Nadu.
“It’s a three­pronged strategy—reach
out to specific castes and communities,
pick regions of priority and see where
there are very fragile combinations
that can be broken,” he says.


CCORDING to political analyst
Sandeep Shastri, who believes it
is simplistic to say that BJP uses
a single agenda to build its base
in the south, the BJP’s next stop after
Karnataka will be Telangana, where it
is emerging as the alternative to the
ruling TRS led by K. Chandrashekar
Rao. “It’s not that the BJP is looking
for a quick fix turnover in the south,”
says Shastri. “Even if the BJP
emerges as the largest opposition
party, it would be a huge achievement.
See how they have emerged as
Mamata Banerjee’s principal oppo­
nent in Bengal. It’s not about coming
to power, it’s about emerging as a key
player in the states.”
Building organisational strength is
the key priority, admit leaders of the
BJP, which has been aggressively
recruiting from other parties. As
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have
witnessed large­scale defections to
the BJP from other parties, the lead­
ers Outlook spoke to concede that it is
indeed an emerging trend. “The way
to grow is certainly by expansion,”
says Narasimha Rao. “What is undem­
ocratic about former MLA or MPs
joining the BJP? (Former Andhra
CM) N. Chandrababu Naidu had
brought 23 YSR Congress MLAs into
the TDP in the past five years and

made four of them ministers. The
Congress and others should look back
and stop complaining.”
Agrees BJP general secretary P.
Muralidhar Rao, who adds: “In the
coming days, you will see more people
from other parties joining the BJP and
also our voteshare rising. In the next
two years, the BJP will be the only
opposition party in Andhra Pradesh
and Telangana, where 36 lakh new
members will be added as part of our
membership drive. Both the states are
going to witness major political
realignment in the coming days.”

AP and Telangana^


N the two Telugu states, the BJP is
trying to fill the political vacuum left
by the decimation of two powerful
parties—the TDP and the Congress—
in the general elections. “We are
working hard to build the party from
the grassroots,” says Sunil Deodhar,

the BJP’s national secretary in charge
of Andhra Pradesh. “We are here for
development, but won’t compromise
on our ideology and tolerate con­
version or appeasement of minorities
for votebank politics.” The BJP has a
fair chance if it can do a social
chu rning to accomplish its dream to
capture power in the 2023 assembly
polls, reckons political commentator
Kollu Anka Babu. “The BJP should
strike a balance bet ween the two
economically powerful and influential
communities—the Kapu and the
Kamma— bes ides taking along the
minorities and other backward
communities,” he says.
With the massive exodus to the BJP
from the TDP, the prospects of the
revival of Naidu’s party appear quite
bleak. “Revival is distant dream under
Naidu,” says a senior TDP functionary.
“We have little option but to look for
greener pastures and safer havens. In
the prevailing scenario, there is no
scope for the Congress, which is dead
and gone. As the YSR Congress led by
Jaganmohan Reddy is dominated by
his own community members, we
were left with just one option—the
BJP, which is emerging as the most
powerful party in the country.”
Unlike Andhra Pradesh, where the
BJP has to start from scratch,

“the BJP should strike a
balance between Andhra
Pradesh’s two powerful
communities—the Kapu
and the Kamma,” says
analyst K. Anka Babu.

netteD Amit Shah welcomes an adivasi woman into the BJP in telangana


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