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BJP struggles to stay relevant in AP

Hyderabad: The political scenario in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is turning quite interesting, with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are both facing an existential crisis.

While the Congress already appears to be a closed chapter, the BJP is struggling to remain relevant by tagging along with either Telugu Desam Party, the Jana Sena or both. However, with the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) entering Andhra Pradesh politics, the task has become tougher for the BJP.

Except in a couple of Assembly constituencies, the BJP has never been a strong force in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. The situation has not changed even after the State bifurcation and instead, only got worse. By entering into an alliance with the TDP and the Jana Sena, the BJP won four MLA seats in the 2014 Assembly elections.

But by the 2019 Assembly elections, it could not retain even one seat and the vote share dwindled from 4.13 percent in 2014 to 0.96 percent in 2019. This was less than even the vote share of NOTA, which had 1.5 percent.

Though both TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu and JSP chief Pawan Kalyan are ready to cosy up with the BJP, the latter has been dilly-dallying for reasons better known to the powers that be.

Arguably both the leaders are getting increasingly impatient and are learnt to have come to an understanding to go ahead with their plans even if the BJP was willing to join them or not. Naidu is said to be keener to have Pawan Kalyan on board than the BJP.

“Considering the caste and religious equations in Andhra Pradesh, the presence of Pawan Kalyan on his side is more relevant than the BJP alone for the TDP chief,” a TDP source said.

The BJP too has been maintaining a close relation with Pawan Kalyan to woo the Kapu community and to establish its presence in Andhra Pradesh. But it has been unsuccessful so far.

With the BRS starting its operations in Andhra Pradesh, a large number of leaders who played key roles in the Congress and the Praja Rajyam Parties earlier as well as those in the TDP and the JSP are showing keen interest to join the party.

Several leaders like former Minister Ravela Kishore Babu, Thota Chandrasekhar, Parthasarathi and others have already joined the BRS, while the party leadership led by BRS AP president Chandrasekhar has already expedited plans to expand its activities across the State.

“Unless the TDP or the JSP gives a shoulder, the BJP has grim chance of surviving after the 2024 Assembly elections and the BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh too are aware of it. One need not wonder if the BJP joins hands with the YSRCP to stay relevant,” said S Ram Prasad, a political analyst from Visakhapatnam.