Pullarao Pentapati : BJP Prospects And Risks in Andhra and Telengana

There is no doubt that BJP has revived itself across the country. Whether  BJP will form a Government or not, we will know by May 16, 2014 and whether it will  a stable government or it will be the kind of 14-day Vajpayee government in 1996. But whatever the prospects of the BJP across India, We BJP will face a severe test in Andhra Pradesh, in both regions of Andhra and Telengana.

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BJP was able to gain  strength in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and the Northern States and even in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha, because it has ruled there for many years and there was a  memory that BJP was in power once. But the BJP never formed a government in Andhra Pradesh. Its only claim to power was during Atal Bihari Vajpayy’s government, there were about 6 Minister from Andhra Pradesh.

In the last 10 years, after  TDP broke off its alliance with the BJP in 2004, the BJP was totally lost. It failed miserably in Assembly elections and Parliament election  in both 2004 and 2009. Its Central Ministers could not even save their security deposits in elections. But with rise of Narendra Modi, there was an opportunity in Andhra Pradesh. The rampant corruption of Manmohan Singh government, terrible un-employment amongst educated youth and mismanagement of State Congress after Dr.Raja Sekhar Reddy’s death had created a vacuum in Andhra.

The BJP had two MLA’s from Telengana. Therefore the State BJP felt that the only way it could hold onto the little strength is to go along with TRS for a separate Telengana State.

BJP and Telengana Demand:

When you are in the Opposition, you have luxury of making impossible Demands and impossible promises. For  BJP in Telengana , the demand for a separate State fulfilled all its needs. The BJP could go on making this demand and there was no loss. The BJP never had a chance of forming a government in Andhra Pradesh and hence it lost nothing. In Maharashtra, the BJP was very careful about the separate State of Vidarbha, since its bigger ally  the Shiv Sena warned the BJP against it and the BJP was silenced. But in Andhra, there was no such obstacle.

The BJP in the Coastal Andhra region was totally absent and they had little voice in the BJP leadership. They kept quiet and went along, thinking that this was a demand which would not be conceded and there was much to gain in Telengana.

The State BJP cleverly used the rise of Narendra Modi to seduce the TDP to come for an alliance. The BJP held a big meeting in Hyderabad in September, 2013 and since there was a great amount of time, people could be brought to fill up the Stadium. There was also a lot of interest about Narendra  Modi in the media, cine  world and the wealthy people of Andhra Pradesh. The meeting was a great success and that started the ambitions of the State BJP.

1. The BJP felt that it should stridently demand Telengan. Then it would gain enormously in Telengana. The BJP also highlighted the fact that the BJP was the Opposition Party in Lok Sabha and could stop Telengana if it wanted. But it was going to support Telengana because it was such a good partyy. This situation made the BJP very important to TRS and other parties interested in Telengana.

2. The Congress party also felt that since the BJP was supporting Telengana, it should also support Telengana or BJP will take advantage. The Congress was constantly worried how Tlengana will help or hurt the BJP. Therefore to some extent the Congress and Sonia Gandhi followed the BJP since it did not want the BJP to say that it was ready to grant Telengana, but the Congress betrayed them. So the BJP enjoyed demanding  “Give Telengana”

3. The National BJP also enjoyed being  courted by  Seemandhra people to protect unity and save their honor. The National BJP   behaved as if they really were going to help and never gave the impression that they will ditch Samakhya( United Andhra ) forces. In fact,  National BJP leaders like Advani, Rajnath Singh and even Narendra Modi expressed sympathy for the agitating Coastal Andhra people and criticized the Congress party for their heartlessness and said grandly how they gave the 3 small petty states of Chattisgarh,  Utranchal and Jharkhand. The national BJP acted as if they were great statesmen and  opposed the petty political greed of the Congress and Sonia Gandhi. Till the last moment, Seemandhra expected relief from the BJP.

4. What the BJP was doing was using the Seemandhra demands to threaten TRS that they could go to the Andhra way and get 25 MP’s. This was a threat which the TRS took very  seriously and Congress was also frightened. But the Telengana BJP won the day and ensured that on February 18th, 2014.  BJP went against Seemandhra. This was of course a shock to Seemandhra . The shock at the games of the BJP is still to sink in. There will be eventual consequences for the BJP.

Status of the BJP in Andhra and Telengana:

In Telengana, the BJP got an alliance with  TDP. They expected great synergy between them. The BJP had no base and needed an ally. Its first preference was the TRS. But the TRS was not interested in going for an alliance with the BJP since it wanted to keep its options open. The TRS was also looking at post-poll options. It is ready to support any party in Delhi. So the BJP had no option but to go with the TDP. Moreover, Chandra Babu Naidu worked behind the scenes and the local BJP leadership had no voice.

Minimum electoral performance for the BJP:

Having shouted continuously for years for Telengana, if the BJP does not win at least 4 MPs and at  20 MLAs, then it will have no place in Telengana. The entire political space would be taken by Congress,  TRS and others. The BJP has been trying hard to find political space in Telengana.  Its belief is that in a small state, the BJP can  use its government in Delhi and become a major party. In Utranchal, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, the BJP is a big  force . Similarly the BJP hopes to dominate Telengana.

If the BJP fails to have  a good performance in Telengana, then it will have to answer why it failed . It will also have to answer why Narendra Modi failed to get any votes. The urban areas of Telengana are ideal places for the “Modi Magic” to work. If BJP fails in Telengana, then it means that the Modi Magic is simply a public relations  stunt.

BJP in Seemandhra:

Here, the BJP tied up willingly with  TDP since it was  very weak here. The fact that the National BJP was instrumental in dividing up Andhra Pradesh has really exposed the Seemandhra BJP to criticism. The local BJP is as guilty as the Congress in dividing up the state. But having an alliance with the TDP gave it some strength. Moreover, the BJP managed to get cine actor Pavan Kalyan to support it and  gave it some glamour.

The State BJP has no crowd pullers. Only Pavan Kalyan is its star campaigner. It is contesting 9 MLA seats and 4 MP seats.  There is much anger in the TDP cadre that the BJP fielded weak candidates and they will lose. Having got Narendra Modi to campaign all over coastal Andhra, along with Pavan Kalyan and Chandra Babu Naidu, the results will be very important.

If the BJP does not win at least 3 of the 4 MPs seats it is contesting, then it will look a failure since the voters were told that the BJP MPs will make Narendra Modi Prime Minister. With regard to MLAs, if  Seemandra BJP fails, it will damage itself severely and also damage the TDP and may stop it from forming a government.

If the BJP fails in Telengana, it means that having helped the creation of Telengana, it has only helped the MIM (Muslim Majlls), its main rival. Thanks to the BJP, the MIM (Muslim Majlis) will have Ministers for the first time since the Nizam  lost his Government  in Hyderabad.

It also means that in Telengana, it has created new forces totally hostile to itself and has made a very bleak future for itself. In fact, the MIM might even have a Deputy Chief Minister if the TRS or Congress needs MLAs. The BJP will put former Nizam people as Ministers.

The election results will also show whether the National BJP should have accepted the offer of all parties and people in Seemandhra to stop division and take the 25 Lok Sabha MPs. We will have to wait and see whether the state BJP  also harmed the prospects of BJP Government in Delhi.

Telengana has been a high risk venture for the BJP.  Wait for May, 16.

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