Andhra BJP leaders shoot off letter to PM Modi, Shah warning them of TDP

A few BJP leaders pen a letter to the national leadership, pro-TDP leaders have been nominated to contest the polls.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Mar 23, 2024 | 10:00 AMUpdatedMar 23, 2024 | 10:00 AM

PM Modi, NTR and TDP & BJP flags from Chilakaluripet meeting. (Supplied: PM Modi on X)

At least eight state BJP leaders from Andhra Pradesh have sent a letter, representing the “voice of lakhs of BJP karyakartas”, regarding the TDP’s alleged hidden agenda and ‘backstabbing’ the saffron party by selecting candidates suspected to be in cahoots with the regional party.

The letter was addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, National General Secretary BL Santosh, and two other national leaders.

In the letter, they stated that they were not against the BJP leadership’s decision but were opposed to the selection of alliance candidates.

The BJP will be contesting in 10 Assembly and six Lok Sabha seats as part of its alliance with the TDP-JSP combine in Andhra Pradesh.

The eight-point letter indirectly criticised BJP leaders who had been associated with the TDP and now getting party tickets by sidelining those who have been working for the party for decades with strong ideological conviction.

BJP disciplinary committee chairman Paka Venkata Satyanarayana, and the party’s state vice president Vishnu Vardhan Reddy, were among the signatories.

The leaders, who were indirectly referred to be in pally with the TDP responded, stating that the BJP leaders who penned the letter were acting in the interest of the ruling YSRCP.

In a separate development, the BJP on 21 March appointed national general secretary Arun Singh as the party in charge for the Lok Sabha polls and Siddharth Nath Singh as the co-in charge.

Also Read: Why TDP bent backwards to give BJP 25% of Andhra LS seats

TDP vs YSRCP in saffron fold

The BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh have been split ever since its ally JSP announced a tie-up with the TDP on 14 September last year when N Chandrababu Naidu was in jail following his arrest in the Skill Development scam.

The BJP’s state leadership distanced itself from the JSP chief’s announcement. They refused to comment without a communication from Delhi.

Several BJP leaders had opposed the alliance with the TDP. They feared that they would be sidelined.

However, senior leaders like former chief minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy and Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh pushed for the alliance, claiming it would boost the BJP’s chances of winning, considering Andhra’s bipolar political landscape.

Even before the central leadership decided on the tie-up, some leaders lobbied for particular constituencies, demanding party tickets in case of an alliance.

The leaders even branded each other as “Naidu’s gang” or “Jagan’s gang.”

The BJP, on 9 March, formally announced its alliance with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh, further fuelling the race for tickets.

Also Read: CAA rules, TDP-BJP tie-up make AP Muslims debate on ‘lesser evil’

The letter row

A BJP leader, who signed the letter, confirmed the authenticity of a copy with South First. Requesting anonymity, he shared that the sentiments echoed in the letter were genuine and not for personal gains.

He added that the state unit’s list of winnable candidates was ignored and instead, the party fielded leaders who have been hand-in-gloves with the TDP.

The leader mentioned Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh, former Rajya Sabha MP Sujana Chowdhary, Lok Sabha MP Raghu Ram Krishna Raju, and former State Minister C Adinarayana Reddy, who got tickets bypassing senior leaders like Vishnu Vardhan Reddy, Tapana Chowdary, and GVL Narasimha Rao.

The letter pointed out that the TDP-JSP combine allotted the BJP Assembly seats with lesser chances of winning. It specifically mentioned the Srikakulam, Adoni, and Badvel constituencies.

Meanwhile, former TDP MLA Gonuguntla Suryanarayana, who joined the BJP, managed to secure the Dharamavaram Assembly seat.

An aide of one of the leaders indirectly mentioned in the letter refuted the allegations. He stated that the BJP national president JP Nadda had dismissed the letter. The BJP lacked a base in the allocated seats, and candidates were decided based on their strengths to romp home.

He referred to a news conference held by rebel YSRCP MP Raghu Ram Krishna Raju on 14 March. He would likely join the BJP and contest from the Narasapuram parliamentary constituency.

In the conference, the MP labeled Vishnu Vardhan Reddy as a supporter of Jagan in the BJP.

Vishnu Vardhan Reddy had been eyeing the Hindupur parliamentary constituency. But Satya Kumar, accused of being pro-TDP was the front runner. Vishnu Vardhan Reddy was not immediately available for comment.

(Edited by Majnu Babu)