South show: BJP now eyeing Andhra Pradesh, Kerala for alliances

First Published 22, Feb 2019, 1:27 PM IST
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South Show BJP eyeing Andhra Pradesh Kerala alliances
Highlights

In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP finds itself in a curious situation. The TDP and the Congress, after a short-lived bonhomie — shorter than Kim Kardashian marriage with Kris Humphries — are to now contest separately. This will naturally split the votes and work in favour of the BJP

Regardless of what happens in the elections, the fact of the matter is the BJP has already stolen a march over its political rivals, especially the Congress, in firming up alliances.

The BJP has already signed a deal with the AIADMK in the Tamil Nadu, and the PMK will be part of this NDA block. Despite some rough edges continuing to persist, the BJP has also worked out a pact with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Though the  two have been long-standing allies, the recent events have not been particularly easy-going between the two. The duo has chosen to put the prickly issues on the backburner, at least for now, and face the Lok Sabha polls together.

Also read: 5 reasons why AIADMK-BJP alliance is off to a good start in Tamil Nadu

The tie-up with the JD (U) in Bihar and the Akali Dal in Punjab also looks like standing, and the BJP has described the two parties as 'trusted partners', and this would augur well for its prospects.

But with some setbacks expected in the Hindi heartland (in comparison to its show in 2014), the BJP is keen to make it up in South where its performance, at best, has been middling only. Save for Karnataka, the BJP has had to depend on regional allies to survive in the South. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, even with partners, the BJP has been finding the going extremely tough.

This time around, the BJP is trying to break the Kerala and Tamil Nadu jinx, and also put up a spirited show in Andhra Pradesh, where it parted ways with its previous ally the TDP after some acrimonious exchanges.

In Tamil Nadu, it has decided to go with the AIADMK and the PMK (and a few other parties like the DMDK are expected to be part of this bandwagon), and as per political pundits' opinion, this is a formidable alliance block and can give the DMK-Congress combine a run for its money. The BJP won a single seat on its own in Tamil Nadu last time around, another NDA constituent the PMK returned one seat. The rest was swept by the AIADMK (it was outside the NDA ambit then.) But this time, the battle is expected to be tougher.

In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP finds itself in a curious situation. The TDP and the Congress, after a short-lived bonhomie — shorter than Kim Kardashian marriage with Kris Humphries — are to now contest separately. This will naturally split the votes and work in favour of the BJP. But the party in the state is still in its growing stage, and has not reached the level to reap the total benefit of the split among the rivals.

The BJP, needless to say, is on the lookout for bankable allies. It has been in talks with the Jana Sena, the outfit of film idol Pawan Kalyan. But he is, to put it mildly, a maverick, and can be unpredictable. So this deal is far from done as yet.

The BJP is also trying to field someone like Baahubali star Prabhas — his uncle Krishnam Raju has been a minister in Vajpayee government, but then again he is not too keen as he has a flourishing film career and he doesn't want to disturb that. But the BJP is still trying with him.

Of course, the Congress and the TDP allege that the BJP has struck a backroom understanding with YS Jaganmohan Reddy, and the fights between the BJP and YSR Congress are only friendly in nature. But the BJP president Amit Shah has been targeting the YSR Congress in his election speeches. So it is not clear what is exactly brewing between the two.

All in all, Andhra Pradesh is important for the BJP, especially as it sees potential for itself for further growth.

In terms of growth, Kerala, too, offers hope for the BJP. But even as the party is surely rising in the state, it has not translated much in terms of electoral dividends. Out of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, the BJP contested in 18 of them last time around, and it turned a total blank. This time around the bungling by the Left party on the Sabarimala issue is expected to bring in some votes for the BJP. It is also trying to work out a deal with Ezhava community-backed Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena. Some independent candidates are also likely to join the BJP alliance in Kerala. But with the Congress and the Left, both very strong there, the BJP has its task cut out.

In Karnataka, the BJP is aiming to make the most out of the public charades between the Congress and the JD (S), and has set much store on fine tuning its own strategy to make a major dent.

If the BJP can put up a good show in the South, its passage to the seat of governance will be that much smoother.

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