Bonhomie missing between BJP, alliance partners in Andhra Pradesh | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Bonhomie missing between BJP, alliance partners in Andhra Pradesh

Apr 20, 2024 07:33 PM IST

There were no signs of the BJP ranks joining the other two alliance partners in campaign anywhere in the Andhra Pradesh even as the nomination process for the elections in the state began on Thursday

In over a month since the Bharatiya Janata Party officially entered an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) - Jana Sena Party combine in Andhra Pradesh to fight the May 13 elections, the bonhomie between the saffron party and the other two partners of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) appears to be missing.

The alliance between the BJP and TDP was formalised on March 9. (File Photos)
The alliance between the BJP and TDP was formalised on March 9. (File Photos)

As the nomination process for the elections in the state began on Thursday and the leaders got into hectic electioneering, there are no signs of the BJP joining the other two alliance partners in campaign anywhere in the state.

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The only rally which was jointly organised by the three NDA partners was at Chilakaluripet in Palnadu district on March 17, which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan. After that, there have been no instances of the leaders of the three parties addressing any other rallies together.

In the last one month, Naidu and Kalyan have addressed a few joint rallies together and have announced a few more rallies in the run-up to the polling on May 13. Both the leaders are meeting regularly and working out strategies. Even at the grassroots level at many places, the TDP and the Jana Sena cadres are working in tandem.

A senior TDP leader, who refused to be quoted, said the BJP leaders or cadres are not seen anywhere in these joint rallies.

“Senior leaders like former BJP state president Somu Veerraju, vice-president S Vishnu Vardhan Reddy, former member of Parliament (MP) G V L Narasimha Rao and former MLC P V N Madhav have completely gone silent. They are not taking active part in the electioneering, as they are opposed to an alliance with the TDP,” he said.

Only on April 10, BJP state president D Purandeswari joined the TDP-Jana Sena rally at Nidadavolu, apparently because the assembly segment forms part of Rajamahendravaram Lok Sabha constituency, from where she is seeking election to the Lok Sabha.

Except in the constituencies, where ex-TDP leaders like C M Ramesh in Anakapalli, Sujana Chowdary in Vijayawada and Adinarayana Reddy in Jammalamadugu, who had defected to the BJP, nowhere else one can notice the flags of the BJP, Jana Sena and TDP flying together.

Even at the Jana Sena Party’s rallies, the BJP leaders are not joining. Even the proposed common manifesto of the three parties has not seen the light of the day, whereas the TDP-Jana Sena have been going with their common agenda which they had finalised in December itself.

In fact, the alliance between the BJP and TDP was formalised on March 9, after hectic and prolonged deliberations between the BJP national leadership and the TDP president. The Jana Sena Party had been an ally of the BJP for the last four years and in October 2023, it announced a formal alliance with the TDP.

The BJP national leadership, which was initially reluctant to allow the TDP to get back into the NDA fold despite repeated attempts by Naidu to patch up with the saffron party in the last couple of years, finally succumbed to pressure from Pawan Kalyan who was making all out efforts to prevent split of an anti-incumbency vote in Andhra Pradesh.

Moreover, the BJP also realised that the only way it can win three or four MP seats in Andhra is to have an alliance with the TDP-Jana Sena combine, as the YSR Congress party refused to join the NDA and wanted to go alone in the elections. The BJP had drawn a blank in the 2019 general elections in the state and got a vote share of less than one percent.

After a hard bargaining, the BJP was allocated six Lok Sabha seats and 10 assembly seats to contest the next elections, whereas the TDP is contesting in 17 Lok Sabha and 144 assembly seats in the state and the Jana Sena Party was allocated 2 Lok Sabha seats and 21 assembly seats. There are 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh.

What is baffling the TDP leaders is that none of the BJP leaders is making any strong criticism of the YSRCP or the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, despite the fact that the BJP is part of the opposition alliance. “Even at the March 17 Chilakaluripet rally, the Prime Minister refrained from making any direct attack on Jagan or the government, while appealing to the people to vote for the NDA,” the TDP leader quoted above said.

Interestingly, even Jagan has not been attacking the BJP in his election speeches, but is targeting Naidu for surrendering himself to the national party, as he has no capacity to fight the elections alone. “Naidu has joined hands with the BJP and Jana Sena to fight the elections, whereas I am fighting alone like a lion,” Jagan said at his rally.

According to political analyst Telakapalli Ravi, the BJP appears to be playing a double game. In the last five years, the BJP national leadership maintained cordial relations with Jagan, as he had been extending support to the Centre by voting in its favour in Parliament and in return, the Centre helped his government by liberally releasing funds and allowing it to go in for huge borrowings.

“But the BJP wants to have its numbers in Andhra Pradesh. While Jagan has refused to join the NDA, Naidu was eagerly waiting for an alliance with the BJP. So, it might have thought it can win a few seats by joining hands with the TDP; at the same time, it doesn’t want to rub Jagan on the wrong shoulder,” Ravi said, adding that the alliance with the TDP-Jana Sena was only for its political convenience.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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