HYDERABAD: Having done an encore in capturing power at the Centre, the BJP is now looking south of Vindhyas where it is yet to make its presence felt, except in Karnataka and Telangana.
The dream run that the BJP had in the recent Lok Sabha elections, decimating the Congress in the process across North India, is now allowing the saffron leaders in the South, the luxury of first stirrings of hope that the party need not remain confined to the fringes but could emerge as a major player, occupying the space the Opposition parties are vacating in some states like AP and Kerala.
BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, during a chat with the editorial team of The New Indian Express here on Thursday, said that though the party’s performance in South does not look impressive on the face of it, but, on closer examination, it becomes evident that it had gained fresh ground in Kerala in terms of improvement in vote share and is poised to spread its wings in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Encouraged by its overwhelming performance in the recent Ls polls and its improved showing in the southern states, the BJP is now on “Mission South” to further spread its wings in the five states.
As the saffron party looks to the future with the sole aim of consolidating its position in these states, it's General Secretary P Muralidhar Rao said, “The 2019-24 period will be the story of the South for BJP.”
In a freewheeling chat with the editorial of The New Indian Express on Thursday, the BJP leader said,
“It is going to be an interesting growth story, Mission South.”
As far as TS is concerned, he said: “What you have seen is less and what you are going to see will be more.” He said that the results in K’taka proved beyond doubt that the people looked for a stable govt helmed by a leader with a vision. “They knew how a Mahaghatbandhan govt would be like under the chief ministership of HDK and decided to reward BJP 26 LS seats, including Sumalatha’s Mandya.”The poll results had shown clearly that the people had reposed immense faith in PM and turned away from the Cong which, in its eagerness to come to power with the help of its allies, had even subordinated its status as major Oppn which was not to the liking of the people, he said.
He said that in K’taka in the South, the Mahaghatbandhan govt had amplified the prospects of the BJP. People did not want a Bangalore in Delhi. One year of governance was enough for the people to look for an alternative in BJP. They had brought down leviathans like HD Deve Gowda, Mallikharjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily and Muniappa. In Mandya, which Sumalatha won, the chief minister campaigned for his son but to of no avail. “The BJP displayed strength and the people had accepted,” he said.
Formidable player in Telangana
“In TS too, the BJP has emerged as a formidable player after the polls. CM K Chandrasekhar Rao had campaigned against the BJP arguing that PM would not come to power, he concluded that he would emerge as a key player in national politics with his federal front concept. Now, he, having been cut down to size, has no role to play at the Centre. We have no interest in him and neither does he have any in us,” he said.
Claiming that what has been seen in TS was less and what is going to be seen is more, the BJP leader said, “BJP would adopt different strategies to grow, including inviting leaders from other parties who are looking at BJP with renewed interest now. Though they may not belong to our ideology, they would be made to imbibe BJP’s philosophy.”
“Though the BJP may not try to encourage TRS MLAs to leave the party in the near future, it would, however, keep a watch. For the next three years, there may not be any problem for the TRS’ applecart,” he said, making a politically-loaded observation.
In AP, the poll had been fiercely fought and it was highly polarised. The clash was between the TDP and the YSRC and there was no room for any other player. “The YSRC had occupied most of the TDP space and we should grow in TDP’s place which means that the YSRC would remain our political adversary. After the LS polls, Jagan had said that he had wished the BJP would not get majority which means that he does not consider BJP as its friend and therefore we also do not consider him as our ally. We will try to wrest the TDP’s space from the YSRC and grow,” Muralidhar Rao said.
In Kerala, the BJP has made gains quietly. “We have claimed a vote share of 15 per cent and once the BJP crosses this threshold, there would be no looking back. Till now, the popular impression is that Christians, Muslims and other minorities would not support BJP. But the steady increase in vote share demonstrates that other sections too are feeling comfortable with the party and if this trend catches on, before long, the BJP would stand to gain,” he said, despite the party drawing a blank in the elections.
Karnataka: Most important state
The Maha Ghatabhandan amplified the chances of BJP in K’taka. The People experienced the Cong-JD(S) coalition govt. The people thought that the B’luru role model should not be a model in Delhi. The coalition govt should not happen in Delhi, the people felt and voted for BJP. Though K’taka CM HDK camped most of the time in Mandya segment, yet he could not ensure the victory of his son. Now, Karnataka is the most important state in the south for BJP.
TN: Will consolidate anti-DMK vote bank
Senior leaders like M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa are no more. They are not relevant now in politics. The BJP will depend on the anti-DMK vote bank. BJP is one of the key players in TN. The BJP without looking for short term gains decided to align with anti-DMK vote bank. BJP is an organic part of the anti-DMK vote bank. How the BJP plays its cards is important in TN. But, the consolidation of anti-DMK vote bank will take place definitely.
AP: Need to develop connect with people
We have to connect with the people in Andhra Pradesh. The capacity of the BJP has to improve. We are not an ally of YSRCP in AP. When AP CM Jagan Mohan Reddy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the polls, Jagan said that the BJP will not cross 240 seats. If Jagan is a friend of BJP, he should not speak like that. However, Jagan Mohan Reddy helped the BJP by defeating the TDP. Now, the BJP will occupy the space of the Opposition
Kerala: BJP emerged major player
Sabarimala is a symptomatic issue. After the incident, the people are of the view that Communists are not theirs. The BJP emerged as one of the major players in Kerala.
Telangana: Need to save democracy
Our performance in TS was very high in the recent LS elections. There will be an accelerated growth for BJP in south. The TRS should be fought to save democracy, to keep the family/dynasty rule at bay. The TRS should be fought for good governance. The TRS could be fought by the BJP alone. The Congress in TS is doing shadow boxing. In the name of Opposition, the Congress is not playing RaGa’s game. The survival of the Congress in the State is very doubtful.