Why PM Modi’s likely 11 November visit to Andhra Pradesh is significant for the BJP

This will be PM Modi's second visit to the state in less than six months. He earlier visited the state only during elections.

BySNV Sudhir

Published Oct 26, 2022 | 4:18 PMUpdatedOct 26, 2022 | 4:18 PM

narendra modi chiranjeevi ys jagan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s likely second visit to Andhra Pradesh in less than six months has once again brought to the fore the BJP’s plans to expand its base in the South Indian states.

Modi is likely to visit Visakhapatnam on 11 November to launch several development programmes. Though the final itinerary has not been publicised, sources in the state government and the district administration confirmed the visit.

In July, Modi visited Bhimavaram, headquarters of West Godavari district, to attend the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of revolutionary freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju. The celebrations were held as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Earlier, Modi had visited Andhra Pradesh only during the elections in 2014 and 2019. He also visited the state once in 2015, to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the Amaravati capital city.

Incidentally, Modi’s planned visit comes at a time when BJP is focusing on Andhra Pradesh and other South Indian states.

Vizag crucial for BJP

Modi’s visit gains significance in the wake of the state’s changing political dynamics as well as the place. Known as the Jewel of the East Coast, Vizag has been in the limelight for the past few days.

Visakha Garjana

Crowds gathered for the Visakha Garjana before the rally in Vizag. (Supplied)

Vizag become a political battleground after Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy declared it as the state’s executive capital. The announcement was part of the YSRCP government’s three-capitals plan, now caught in a legal tangle.

A campaign to support the government’s plan, too, has been launched in the coastal city. A massive rally called Visakha Garjana was held on 15 October in support of the three-capitals plan that is being opposed by farmers of Amaravati.

Vizag shot into political prominence over the past few years and all political parties have been focusing on the city.

The BJP’s national executive conclave held in Hyderabad in July this year had focused on making inroads in the South.

PM-Chiru bonhomie 

During his previous visit to Andhra Pradesh, Modi was seen striking a rapport with Tollywood megastar and former Union minister Chiranjeevi.

The actor shared the dais with the prime minister and Chief Minister Jagan in Bhimavaram. Chiranjeevi has a huge fan base in Andhra Pradesh.

The visible bonhomie between Modi and Chiranjeevi added to the excitement of the onlookers. The actor was seated next to the prime minister.

Modi was seen holding Chiranjeevi on his shoulders, cracking jokes and laughing. The megastar, meanwhile, looked humbled and he bowed with folded hands.

The chief minister hugged the megastar. In his speech, Jagan described Chiranjeevi as his big brother. The crowd erupted in applause, which reflected the actor’s popularity.

Incidentally, though an invite was extended to Jana Sena supremo and Chiranjeevi’s brother Pawan Kalyan, he skipped the Bhimavaram meeting. The Jana Sena is an ally of  the BJP in Andhra Pradesh.

Formal letter to Chandrababu Naidu

Chiranjeevi was extended a personal invitation to attend the meeting by Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy. A formal communication was sent to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, asking him to depute an elected representative from his party to the party.

The importance given to Chiranjeevi sparked animated discussions in the state’s political circles.

It was later learnt that Pawan Kalyan skipped the meeting to avoid sharing the dais with Jagan Reddy.

Later, in a message he welcomed Modi to Bhimavaram, and appreciated him for taking up Alluri Sitarama Rama’s birth anniversary celebrations. He added that his party leaders would attend the event.

Pawan Kalyan and Chandrababu Naidu

Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan in conversation with TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu in Vijayawada on Tuesday, 18 October, 2022. (Supplied)

However, Pawan’s recent meeting with Chandrababu Naidu has been seen as signs of the actor distancing from the BJP and cosying up to the TDP. The BJP, meanwhile, has appeared unperturbed by the development.

Pawan’s recent references to the YSRCP and Jagan Mohan were abusive. The chief minister retaliated saying the actor had stooped to a new low.

For the BJP, Vizag has the right mix of urban voters and a significant north Indian population. In the 2014 polls, the BJP candidate, Kambhampati Haribabu, won the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat trouncing Jagan’s mother YS Vijayalakshmi of the YSRCP by a margin of 80,000 votes. The TDP had then supported the BJP.

Election to the 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly will be held in 2024, along with the general election. Both YSRCP and TDP have already set their poll campaign machinery rolling.

District prepares for Modi’s visit

Vizag district administration is arranging a public meeting at AU Engineering College Grounds.

Modi is likely to unveil plaques related to the laying of the foundation stone for the ₹400-crore renovation of the Visakhapatnam railway station and expansion of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited at an estimated cost of ₹26,000 crore, besides other projects.