BJP looking for issues to boost its presence in Andhra Pradesh

Vijayawada: Success in saffron surge in parts of Telangana has boosted the morale of the Sangh Parivar with the Bharatiya Janata Party making serious efforts to consolidate its vote bank in Andhra Pradesh.

It is on a massive karyakarta (committed worker) recruitment drive for the party as well as its frontal organisations keeping an eye on general elections due in 2024. The party appoints karyakartas regularly to promote Hindu nationalism at the ground level.

The exodus of several MLAs and Former Ministers from the Telugu Desam Party to the ruling YSR Congress Party headed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has given it the confidence at the prospects of becoming a formidable force. It is now targeting influential leaders from both TDP and Congress after a strategic alliance with film star Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena.

The reason for alliance with Jana Sena, after it severed relationship with the BJP over denial of Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh in 2018, is viewed as the realisation of the need to have a crowd-puller to make a big impact on the masses.

Incidentally, BJP which went to polls alone in 2019 could garner less than 1% vote share, less than None of the Above (NOTA) votes who preferred not to cast their franchise for not finding anyone suitable. On the other hand, Jana Sena polled nearly 7% and won one Assembly seat. The BJP drew a blank. While YSRCP secured a brute majority by winning 151 of 175 Assembly seats and 23 of 25 Lok Sabha seats, TDP won just 23 MLA and two MP seats. After the polls, it also lost several MLAs who migrated to YSRCP.

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“The morale in the cadres of TDP, who polled a vote share of 40% in the last polls, is very low. Resentment is also brewing in YSRCP over dictatorial attitude of Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy. Hence, we want to woo leaders from both the parties as well as Congress which has become a spent force,” a BJP leader seeking anonymity told the siasat.com.

BJP’s win in Dubbak Assembly by-polls and subsequent good showing in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections in Telangana has propelled the morale of the saffron brigade. BJP national president J.P. Nadda has already made it very clear that both the Telugu States-Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were high in the agenda of the BJP to achieve a hat trick by winning Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

The spate of attacks on Hindu temples and the December 28 desecration of Lord Ram’s idol at Sri Kodanda Swamy temple, a 400 year old place of worship at Ramatheertham near Nellimarla of Vizianagaram district have given the much needed ammunition to the BJP and its frontal organisations.

The police foiled “Ramatheertham Chalo’ call by Hindu Aikya Vedika to march to the hilltop temple and arrested BJP State president Somu Veerraju and several others on Tuesday. This led to State wide protests. “Nearly 2,000 of our activists have been arrested when they fought for justice for Lord Ram. It is unfortunate that the Jagan Mohan Reddy Government is insensitive to the majority religion. The unidentified miscreants have not been arrested yet,” he said, criticising the denial of permission to him and other BJP leaders to visit Ramatheertham when Ministers Velampalli Srinivas, Botcha Satyanarayana, YSRCP parliamentary party leader V. Vijayasai Reddy and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu were allowed to go to the hilltop temple and hold meetings.

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Mr Veerraju, who took part in a protest meeting at Gandhi Statue at Visakhapatnam, said they wanted to make the alarming increase in incidents of vandalism on Hindu temples a big issue as they suspected a bigger conspiracy behind it. Mr. Naidu, who is also desperate to keep his horde together, visited the temple and held a meeting making a scathing attack on the YSRCP for its failure to protect the places of worship.

Taken aback by the way the issue was snowballing into a big controversy, Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy asked Crime Investigation Department to take over the investigation into attack on the Ramatheertham temple. He also called for an end to ‘political guerrilla warfare.’

As the YSRCP and TDP are accusing each other for the rise in attacks on temples, the BJP leadership wanted to turn the situation to its favour.

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