HYDERABAD: Southern India will be the next political ‘theatre of war’ in the 2019 elections even as the BJP says that it will have more options for alliances with regional parties down south when compared to 2014 general elections. However, it remains to be seen what strategy the saffron party would formulate for Telangana, where the BJP and the ruling TRS play ‘frenemies’ on a regular basis.
‘’Compared to 2014, the BJP will have more alliance options in southern states in 2019 elections and we are open to all alliances. The stakes will be high in 2019 and the BJP is in a more advantageous position now. We will spare no efforts to make the country a Congress-mukt Bharat,’’ BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao has said.
Rao, the man who was the party’s key strategist in the high-voltage Karnataka elections, said the south has become “unstable” as no new players have emerged, leaving the saffron party with more space down south.
In an exclusive chat with the Express Editorial team, Rao, a full-time RSS worker known well for his oratory skills, announced that there would be a new narrative in the Andhra Pradesh politics in the days to come, very different from what our adversaries were looking at. ‘’We (BJP) are strengthening our party and will be a formidable force in the 2019 elections. The options (of alliances) are more this time. The theatre of electoral war will be southern India and the East to some extent, which has a very few Lok Sabha seats. The elections next year will be worth watching as it will be most attractive and interesting,’’ he said.
There’s no political or ideological viable competitor to BJP, says Rao
A former ABVP worker, Muralidhar Rao, who hails from Jammikunta mandal in Karimnagar district, asserted that there is no political or ideological viable competitor to the BJP. “The BJP is as strong as it was in the 1980s and 90s,’’ he asserted.
In Andhra Pradesh, the party is confident of having a larger footprint, he said and was quick to add that no decision was taken as far as alliances were concerned. “Both Telangana and AP, which have 42 seats, are very important to us. We will surely have an alliance with some party in AP but that is still undecided.’’
On the speculation over a possible tie-up with TRS in Telangana, the BJP leader insisted that the political fight in the state would only be between the TRS and the BJP. “The Congress is in no position to occupy the anti-TRS space. The BJP will occupy it. As far as alliances are concerned, the party leadership has not discussed it so far.’’
Muralidhar Rao also hinted that the BJP would announce its poll alliances in Tamil Nadu in October. “Leaders like MGR and Jayalalithaa are no more. Karunanidhi is not active in politics. There are no new players emerging,” the BJP general secretary said and predicted a good future for the BJP in Tamil Nadu.
In regard to Karnataka, he predicted that the JD (S)-Congress coalition government would not last long. At the same time, he ruled out fresh elections in case the government fell and said the BJP was the single largest party with 104 seats in Karnataka Assembly.“The focus on the south follows the “hungry, aggressive and vibrant” BJP’s determination to win 300 Lok Sabha seats on its own in 2019.’’
‘It will be BJP vs TRS’
Clarifying that there is no confusion among the BJP cadres on whether or not to take on the TRS government, especially in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi showering praise on the state government, Muralidhar Rao said, ‘‘The PM was speaking about the development of the two Telugu states and, in that context, praised the Telangana government. There are no instructions either from the PM or Amit Shah not to take on TRS. It will be BJP vs TRS in 2019, he said.