‘External help’ for Naidu: How NRIs are aiding TDP campaign with men and material for Andhra polls

The YSRCP, too, has an NRI team, but it lags behind TDP in the campaign trail.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 09, 2024 | 12:00 PMUpdatedMay 09, 2024 | 12:00 PM

TDP meticulously raised a sizeable NRI followership over the years — both before and after the state's bifurcation in 2014. (Facebook)

The role of non-resident Indians (NRIs) in improving the prospects of a political party in any election needs no special emphasis.

In the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly in Andhra Pradesh, too, both the principal contenders — YSRCP and TDP — are drawing as much help as possible from this vital voter base.

Both TDP and the YSRCP hope that the good work they have done till now will aid in the elections, which are just days away. And they are relying on this NRI following.

TDP meticulously raised a sizeable NRI followership over the years — both before and after the state’s bifurcation in 2014.

It is now drawing every ounce of the goodwill it created among these people — mostly youngsters — to improve its fortunes in the election.

Related: Over 2,000 NRIs to campaign for TDP in Andhra Pradesh polls

Crucial polls

Dr Ravi Kumar Vemuru is an NRI entrepreneur who supports TDP and is effusive in his praise for the party’s programmes.

“We are reaching out to all sections of society. We are spreading the word about the good work done by Chandrababu Naidu when he was the chief minister of the state before and after the bifurcation,” he noted.

“We have an elaborate organisation across the globe to reach out to the youth and other sections in Andhra Pradesh,” he revealed.

The NRIs — mostly those affiliated with TDP — are helping the party’s candidates financially as well. They are said to be spending good money on campaigning.

“We are spending our money. This time we are spending more than what we had spent in all the previous elections put together,” he said.

“The upcoming elections are very crucial. It is necessary that TDP should win at any cost,” Vemuru said, without mentioning the money that has been pumped into the election campaigning.

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A force to reckon with

The TDP NRI cell has 25,000 members from across 21 countries. They have formed themselves into 66 regional bodies, spreading the message of the TDP back in their countries. Now, they are interacting with people known to them in Andhra Pradesh.

Vemuru said that the TDP NRI cell has been optimising and leveraging on NRIs’ strength.

“For this election, we have collected about 33,000 names of influencers in different cities. The NRIs have been speaking to them, telling them how important it is to elect the TDP,” he explained.

“We are not engaged in negative campaign. We are mostly focusing on the priorities of the state and how the TDP would be able to put the state back on the road to development,” he said.

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Boots on the ground

As many as 2,000 NRIs have arrived in Andhra from different countries to help the TDP candidates in their campaign. They take part in campaign meetings or conduct door visits.

Ahead of the activity, they were sensitised to the issues in the constituencies.

The NRIs are coordinating with the constituency in-charge or the candidate. But during interactions, they get inquires about employment opportunities.

The TDP’s NRI cell has decided to create one lakh international jobs for the youth in AP. It would work out to five percent of the 20 lakh jobs Chandrababu Naidu had promised.

“It may not be difficult to create that many jobs as we have 3,000 entrepreneurs among 25,000 members,” Vemuru said.

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Employment generation

The NRI-TDP cell is also contemplating to set up an NRI centre in each constituency to provide counselling students planning to go abroad for education and employment.

“In Rayalaseema districts like Anantapur, some youths do not even know how to apply for GMAT. The proposed NRI centre will help them prepare for higher studies,” he said.

Vemuru said the students are unaware that entire world is opening up. There are several jobs available across the world.

Besides the US, there are now jobs in Germany, Romania, Japan, South Africa and so on, in nursing, accounting, construction and several other sectors.

“We want to give them proper counselling to make the best use of the prevailing situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the YSRCP does not appear as orgnaised as the TDP in tapping into the strength of the NRIs.

The AP Non-Resident Telugu Society (AP-NRT), an arm of the state government, has been delivering several services which it hopes had brightened the image of the ruling party.

Also Read: Andhra people set to defeat YSRCP, says Naidu

The YSRCP set-up

Apart from the government initiatives, the YSRCP has its own set-up to get the NRIs who are supporters of the YSRC, to help it in improving the party’s image.

Recently, the YSRCP set up committees in 11 countries to build a network of NRIs. The party is hoping to use the committee to broadcast the party’s agenda and ideology abroad by interacting with the Indian diaspora.

The 11 countries are: Kuwait, Australia, the European Union, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Qatar.

Also Read: Naidu engaging in ‘chameleon politics, says Andhra CM Jagan

Image-building plan

The party hopes to involve the NRIs in the building the party’s image and further the organisation’s agenda in Andhra. The committees would first be proselytizing the neutral NRIs into YSRC sympathisers and establish a connect between them and the YSRCP.

Each committee has members ranging from 10 to 88 and are tasked to build a family of the party abroad, transcending the boundaries between nations.

“We are supplementing what the chief minister has already been doing for the state. Earlier we used to hear of the NRIs reaching out to their village and adopting them or lay roads or build school infrastructure. Now most of the work is being done by the chief minister himself. Take for instance, schools. The government has transformed the look of 30,000 schools and improved the quality of instruction,” Medapati S Venkat, president of the AP-NRT Society, said.

Also Read: EC censures Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu

A hurdle

The AP-NRT society has been doing a lot of work for those wanting to go abroad. “During the Covid-19 days, we did a lot of work. We evacuated our people and students stuck in Ukraine and brought them back to AP,” he said.

Venkat said the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, has come as a dampener to the NRIs who want help in the reconstruction of villages through an agency or an NGO.

Even if they want to do some work, it is not simple as they have to take clearances from the Ministry of Home Affairs. That is why most of the NRIs are sending money to those who are well known to them and take up the works. No clearance is required to send money to a person in India.

He claimed that his organisation had helped about 2.5 lakh people. “This good work would definitely add to the image of the party,” he said.

The TDP seemed to be more organised and equipped in tapping the NRIs’ potential.

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Elaborate network

“The Telugu Desam Party has an elaborate network of NRIs who can help it in several ways. But the YSRCP has not been into this area as much as the yellow party,” Prof DAR Subrahmanyam, chairman of the Navyandhra Intellectual Forum, said.

“For instance, TDP nominee for Guntur Lok Sabha seat Pemmasani Chandrasekhar has been financially supporting the party for the past 10 years. He was supposed to contest in 2019 itself but Nadiu allotted the ticket to Galla Jayadev,” he said.

Subrahmanyam said Chandrasekhar has a well-equipped machinery to conduct surveys in each of the Assembly segment.

“For other parties, though they have their NRI cells, their contribution to the image of their party has not been very significant,” Subrahmanyam said.

As far as the YSRCP is concerned, Jagan Mohan Reddy does not need any financial help from the NRIs. He does not belong to that genre. It is another reason why the YSRCP is not making much effort to rally NRIs behind it, he added.

(Edited by Majnu Babu).