AP BJP: Kanna's loss, Veerraju's gain
Somu Veerraju, the new BJP State President of Andhra Pradesh, has a clear-cut job on hand
Somu Veerraju, the new BJP State President of Andhra Pradesh, has a clear-cut job on hand. The replacement of Kanna Lakshminarayana with Veerraju has come as no surprise to anyone. Kanna turned out to be a miserable failure from the BJP's viewpoint in his capacity as the president of the party in steering it effectively.
The BJP is struggling to establish itself as a strong Opposition in the State, having played a second fiddle to the TDP from the latter's inception, on its own volition. Though it got separated from the TDP in between, it could not gain much, thanks to the caste dynamics in the State. There have been whispers that powerful local BJP leaders did not have much say in the party affairs and that they were unable to dictate an independent course for the party. Bifurcation of the State too did not infuse the desired strength in the party as it again became an ally of the TDP.
During the 2019 elections, the party was left to fend for itself with even the TDP distancing itself from the NDA. The BJP faced a problem in identifying itself with any particular social group all along till the Jana Sena joined hands with it in the recent past. Even Pawan Kalyan's debut as an ally could not alter the image of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh as Kapus (Pawan's identity) were never a monolith vote block in politics and never used their numbers to change the course of political parties much. Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan could gather impressive crowds during electioneering but could not consolidate their position in Andhra politics. While Chiranjeevi preferred sailing with the Congress in the latter times, Pawan Kalyan chose to adopt an ant-YSRCP stand and preferred the BJP now.
Kanna was expected to give a worthy fight to the YSRCP as well the TDP after he became the BJP president. However, either Kanna did not read the BJP policy correctly or deviated from his brief in due course deliberately, to fall out of his Central leaders' favour. As for the BJP, its line has always been clear - that it would take on both the TDP and the YSRCP simultaneously in the State notwithstanding the fact that the Centre was seeking YSRCP's support in the Parliament on several issues. It also needed the support of its members in the Rajya Sabha to tide over the Opposition in getting its Bills passed. But it never said it was either going soft on the YSRCP or that the latter was its ally.
If any, the YSRCP needed the BJP more on its side due to the pending cases of its leaders. Again, the BJP's first priority is to become the main Opposition and replace the TDP in the position before the 2024 elections. Hence, it encouraged defections from the TDP into its fold at all levels. Perhaps, this is where Kanna failed in his understanding of the party's line. It is to be seen how far Veerraju would succeed in the process.