BJP preps ‘Operation Akarsh’ in Andhra Pradesh to weaken the TDP

Except during polls, BJP workers never witnessed such an impressive lineup of the party’s prominent leaders in the state.

BySNV Sudhir

Published Sep 10, 2022 | 11:45 AMUpdatedSep 10, 2022 | 12:52 PM

Amit Shah says PM Narendra Modi will continue to lead the country (BJP4India/ Facebook)

Eyeing the TDP space in Andhra Pradesh, which is under attack day in and day out by the YSRCP, the BJP has stepped up its operations.

As YSRCP tries to edge the TDP out, the BJP is eager to occupy the space, not giving any opportunity to the ruling party to arrogate it to itself, which is the game plan that the saffron party has been implementing in Opposition-ruled states all over the country.

Not intent on losing time, the BJP is busy trying to make a foray into the TDP bastion and win as many leaders as possible to its side.

The “frenzied focus” of the central leadership on Andhra Pradesh has in fact left the party workers baffled.

In July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi squeezed time from his tight schedule and visited Andhra Pradesh.

Though it was to unveil revolutionary freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju’s statue in Bhimavaram, the political significance of his visit was not lost on the saffron party’s state leaders.

Except during the polls in the past, BJP workers had never witnessed such an impressive line-up of national leaders visiting the state even though elections to the state Assembly are still two years away.

Sources in BJP’s central and state leadership told South First that such visits will only increase in the days to come. Leaders insist there will also be “surprise” inductions into the BJP from other parties, especially Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP.

The Andhra strategy 

BJP’s central leadership is understood to have prepared the “Andhra strategy” to make inroads into Andhra Pradesh — a state that has always remained elusive to the BJP.

Left with no other option, the saffron party had either played second fiddle to the ruling party for a major part of TDP’s term when it was in power, or remained as an insignificant rabble rouser.

Setting in motion its plan of action of landing big fish mainly from the TDP, the party is deploying at least 10 Union ministers to address about 5,000 whistle-stop meetings that will be launched on 17 September and will end on 2 October, Gandhi Jayanti day.

On the launch day, national leaders will participate in all 13 combined districts. Special mobile meeting platforms and vehicles are being readied for this outreach.

“These 5,000 street-corner meetings are being planned to build momentum across the state to whip up a frenzy before big leaders of other parties join the BJP. There will be several developments that might come as a surprise in Andhra Pradesh. Wait and watch,” a top BJP leader in Delhi, who is from Andhra Pradesh, told South First.

Union ministers, national leaders, and experts in various sectors of the economy will take part in these meetings across the state.

To grow as challenger to YSRCP

Never in the state’s history, has the BJP organised such a large and mega outreach blitzkrieg, with an exclusive, state-level committee to oversee the arrangements for these street-corner meetings.

“The YSRCP government is playing with the future of Andhra Pradesh and its people. TDP had miserably failed as an opposition. Due to the inefficient role played by the TDP as an Opposition party, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has turned into an autocrat,” BJP state general secretary S Vishnuvardhan Reddy told South First.

“Henceforth, the BJP will be the voice of the people. Politically also, by 2024, we want to emerge as the only alternative to YSRCP in the state.”

The aggressive onslaught by Union minister Anurag Thakur against the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in a recently held Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha programme in Vijayawada, in fact, has signaled BJP’s change of tack.

In the planned meetings, BJP leaders will talk about the “good work done” by the Modi government for Andhra Pradesh in the last eight years and also expose the failures of the YSRCP government.

In the last few months, Union ministers, S Jaishankar, Hardeep Singh Puri, G Kishan Reddy, Shobha Karandlaje, Dr Bharathi Pravin Pawar and Anurag Thakur, and BJP national president J P Nadda have visited Andhra Pradesh.

There are indications that such visits of high-profile leaders from BJP to Andhra Pradesh will only increase in the future.

Cold response to Jana Sena 

Though Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan had in the past proposed the idea of all the Opposition parties joining forces to take on the YSRCP, the BJP’s response has remained somewhat cold.

Pawan Kalyan had indicated that he was even game for an alliance with BJP and TDP.

According to analysts, the BJP remained cold to Pawan Kalyan’s overtures as he wants to rope in the TDP as well whom the saffron party wants to edge out of the scene.

BJP’s stony silence on joining hands with TDP is being seen as the saffron party indicating to Pawan Kalyan that it was game to work with him, but not with the TDP.

Until a few days ago, both the Jana Sena and the Opposition TDP have indirectly pushed the narrative for a need to join hands so that there will not be any split in the anti-incumbency vote in the upcoming polls in 2024.

Due to the lack of response from the BJP, both parties remained silent on the proposal to forge a “Mahagathbandhan” of sorts.

“Our alliance is with people and we are already in alliance with Jana Sena. You will have to ask him (Pawan Kalyan) about the alliance with TDP. As far as the BJP is concerned, we don’t want to have any truck with family-ruled political parties,” BJP state chief Somu Veerraju had said in the past.

Though both Jana Sena and BJP were allies, they had never taken up joint programmes in the last two years. While BJP had planned its protests against the ruling dispensation, Jana Sena had its own programmes. It is also seen as a fallout of the trust issues between the two parties.