Operation Lotus in AP

Operation Lotus in AP

The Bharatiya Janata party is making curious political moves. The induction of Kanna Laxminarayana in the saffron party epitomises its new political...

The Bharatiya Janata party is making curious political moves. The induction of Kanna Laxminarayana in the saffron party epitomises its new political strategy. Speculation is rife over the possible entry of former chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy into the BJP. Will these moves strengthen the party in Andhra Pradesh? What does it infer for the party’s alliance with the Telugu Desam Party? The BJP’s Maharashtra experiment makes the writing on the wall clear for the ruling TDP. The BJP’s strategy is to consolidate on its own. The party does not mind to dump even its time-tested allies to put this strategy into action. Its decision to break with Shiv Sena has paid rich dividends. This is has provided enough enthusiasm to the party. Precisely, this is the context in which the plans of BJP can make TDP jittery.

The BJP has no traditional hold in residuary Andhra Pradesh. This region has not seen any large-scale communal mobilisation. The linguistic identity prevails over religious identity. Such a socio-political composition is normally not conducive for the growth of BJP. But, the Amit Shah-led BJP is working out a novel strategy to expand its base in Andhra Pradesh. The first dimension of this strategy is to attract disgruntled leaders from other parties. The Congress is highly vulnerable. The people of Seemandhra are in no mood to forgive and forget Congress for imposing a partition on them. Gauging this public pulse, several Congress leaders are looking for better avenues. The short-term traders are looking at TDP as this stock is bullish now in the political stock market. The long-term investors who are hither to not comfortable with TDP are looking at BJP. The BJP is trying to capitalise on this vulnerability of the Congress. This has begun much before elections. Now, it is likely to take momentum unless the BJP face any political adversity in the country.

Some critics feel that the Congress leaders who are being attracted by BJP now were rejected by the people.
Thus their utility is doubtful. But, the BJP leaders refer to the success of several Congress leaders who switched their political loyalty to TDP just before the elections. Insiders in state BJP reveal that Amit Shah has realised the importance of caste in Andhra politics. During the recent elections, the BJP could effectively consolidate anti-Jat vote in its favour in Haryana. This has significantly contributed to its victory. Earlier in Karnataka the Lingayats rallied behind BJP to catapult it to power first time in south India. Appreciating this caste dynamics, the BJP is trying to put a winning caste combine in Andhra Pradesh. Kapus are high on its agenda. Besides, Pavan Kalyan through his glamour brings the Kapu vote. The induction of Kanna Laxminarayana, assented Congress leader into the party is only a continuation of its strategy to rally Kapus who constitute a sizable vote in many constituencies. Kapus overwhelmingly voted for TDP-BJP combine in the recent general election.

The party is trying to rope in Kiran Kumar Reddy. Kiran is expected to bring two things to BJP. The party lacks a leadership. Though Venkaiah Naidu is a towering leader in the party, his influence in the state is very limited. Kiran Kumar Reddy is expected to fill this gap. The former chief minister enjoys an image for his uncompromising stand on the bifurcation of the state. He could not convert this image into votes. But, his association with the party would help the both. Besides, he belongs to the most influential caste.

However, the BJP invests heavily on Pavan Kalyan. His Jana Sena Party either would merge with the BJP or be part of BJP-led alliance. In fact, Pavan Kalyan was more close to BJP than TDP. Modi has invited him to the NDA meeting held after elections along with TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu. This only speaks the BJP’s calculated mind. These political moves cannot go well with TDP. The leaders like Kanna Laxminarayana, who recently defected to BJP, are long time rivals of TDP. There is a bitter rivalry between TDP and these leaders at the ground level. Though the leadership of the two parties is cautious, they cannot ignore ground-level realities.

The BJP was never enthusiastic in extending support to TDP after the alliance voted to power both at the Centre and the state. The BJP leaders openly expressed their disproval for the TDP grand capital plan. The BJP has distanced itself from the TDP loan waiver promise. Modi government refused to go with Chandrababu Naidu government on the later controversial decision to scrap Power Purchase Agreements.

The promise of special status and special package did not materialise so far. Despite being in power, the BJP always maintained its independent position. All these make BJP’s intentions clear. Even the TDP leaders, including a minister in Naidu’s government publicly expressed his anger over BJP’s strategy. Political observers are skeptical of possible TDP-BJP tie up in 2019.

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