The BJP has placed high hopes in the southern states where it was traditionally considered weak, to achieve its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's Mission 272+ seats in the Lok Sabha. And the party believes it can get up to 25-30 seats with its allies in the south to stake claim at the Centre after the results are out on May 16.
The outreach in three southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has seen Modi addressing people in the local languages. He also held several rallies in these states over the past eight months, giving a new impetus. The party now has alliances in all three states with regional forces.
“We will get about 50 seats in southern India alone,” former BJP chief M Venkaiah Naidu claimed but realistically the party assesses it can get about 25-30 seats with its allies.
The BJP expects that its rainbow alliance with the DMDK, MDMK, PMK, IJK and KMDK will make the poll fight in Tamil Nadu a triangular contest for the first time in recent decades. Traditionally, the contest in Tamil Nadu has been between the DMK and its rival AIADMK.
“We will surprise electoral pundits this time with our performance in Tamil Nadu,” BJP president Rajnath Singh said. The saffron party is hopeful of winning the Kanyakumari and Coimbatore seats and expects its allies like Vaiko of MDMK to do well, with the overall tally for the coalition to be around 6 in Tamil Nadu.
BJP ally DMDK had performed splendidly in the 2011 state assembly polls, winning 29 out of 41 seats it contested in alliance with J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK. The PMK polled 39.72% votes in 30 seats it contested. The MDMK, which got 3.66% votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, had boycotted the assembly polls. In all, the BJP alliance partners contesting separately received about 20% votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections -- enough to disturb poll equations this time.
An alliance with the TDP of N Chandrababu Naidu has come as a shot in the arm for the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. The TDP polled 24.93% in the 2009 elections – swept away by the Congress under YS Rajasekhara Reddy – and BJP expect Naidu's organisational strength coupled with the 'Modi wave' to work wonders in the Seemandhara and Telangana regions.
In Karnataka, the BJP may not repeat its 2009 performance but is not expecting a repeat of the 2013 assembly election rout. With the return of Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa and controversial leader B Sriramulu, who has considerable influence in Bellary and neighbouring constituencies, the BJP hopes to reach closer to its 2009 performance. It won 19 out of Karnataka’s 28 seats in the last election but was routed in the subsequent assembly elections when Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu floated their regional outfits.
In Kerala, where the Congress and the Left share 20 seats among themselves, the BJP is pinning its hopes on the Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram seats to open its account. However, the party admits that the primary contest in the state would be between the alliances led by the Congress and the Left.
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