TNI Analysis: Decoding the blueprint of BJP’s Southern march

BJP’s Southern India push is aimed at winning at least 60 out of 129 Lok Sabha seats from southern states

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By: Pramod Kumar Singh
Updated: 17 January, 2023 9:04 pm IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President JP Nadda

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has set its sight on the Southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka to accomplish its Mission 2024. BJP leadership has been putting additional efforts to win in the unchartered territories in Southern India. BJP’s Southern India push is aimed at winning at least 60 out of 129 Lok Sabha seats from southern states and thus making up for the probable loss of some seats in North and Central India. There are 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, 39 in Tamil Nadu, 17 in Telangana, 28 in Karnataka, and 20 in Kerala,

Master strategist and National General Secretary Sunil Bansal has been put on the job along with Tarun Chugh who is also a General Secretary to focus on the Southern states. Bansal and Chugh have held several meetings and are especially touring Karnataka and Telangana where assembly elections are scheduled to be held later this year.

The top brass of the BJP wants to retain Karnataka and wrest power from the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) supremo and Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrashekhar Rao. BJP has begun its Karnataka battle, and its top leadership has drawn an elaborate strategy to beat anti-incumbency on assembly seats and put up the right candidates. BJP held a training camp for its workers and party strategists to prepare a winning formula for the assembly and national elections as well. The training session conducted in Hyderabad was attended by top leaders who emphasized how important it is for the party to win in these states.

Tamil Nadu with 39 Lok Sabha seats has been a tough state for the BJP though it had won 4 seats during the last state assembly elections. The party has been able to make heads turn after former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer turned politician K Annamalai was made state president.

BJP was able to penetrate rural Tamil Nadu and is being discussed in the state that has been witness to a power tussle between Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) since CN Annadurai who defeated Congress in 1967. MK Karunanidhi succeeded Annadurai in February 1969 after his untimely death. Tamil movie star MG Ramachandran broke away from the DMK and formed AIADMK in 1972. Power has been changing hands between the two parties since then.

BJP is making a concerted push to create a space in Tamil Nadu where followers of Annadurai and Periyar EV Ramasamy. Winning Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu is one of the unfinished tasks for the BJP which is not leaving any stone unturned to make inroads in this two-party state,

BJP organized Kashi-Tamil Sangam from November 17 to December 16, 2022, in Varanasi to re-invent the old cultural ties between Kashi and Tamil Nadu. The event that saw the participation of lakhs of people from Tamil Nadu was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the leading lights of the BJP. Visitors from Tamil Nadu were explained about the growth of states such as Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh where BJP’s ‘double engine’ governments were working in tandem to herald all-around development.

Master strategist and National General Secretary Sunil Bansal has been put on the job along with Tarun Chugh who is also a General Secretary to focus on the Southern states

Political analysts feel that Kashi-Tamil Sangam was not just an event, it was political messaging through social and cultural confluence.

Telangana is another southern state where BJP is pushing hard to wrest power from strongman K Chandrashekhar Rao popularly known as KCR. Ever since BJP candidate D Aravind defeated K Kavitha the daughter of Telangana CM from Nizamabad parliamentary seat by 68000 votes. KCR’s party suffered a huge dent in the 2019 general elections after BJP won 4 seats. The BJP wants to paint Telangana saffron in the assembly elections in 2023 and then in the 2024 national elections. BJP’s forays have made KCR jittery who harbors national ambitions after renaming his Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) as Bharat Rashtra Samiti.

One may recall when BJP president JP Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath campaigned vigrously during the Hyderabad Municipal elections in December 2020, many ridiculed the strategy. The result was that BJP was able to win 48 seats while TRS could manage 56 seats. BJP added 44 seats to its tally of 4 seats in 2015. What was more interesting was the vote share. While TRS polled 1,204,167 votes, BJP got 1, 195,711 votes. It was a very tight finish.  BJP’s aggressive campaign in Hyderabad municipal elections was seen as the first serious shove to make inroads into the TRS vote bank.

Kerala with 20 Lok Sabha seats continues to be a tough state for the BJP which is making efforts to open its account in the 2024 General Elections. Beating the Left Front in Kerala with a sizeable Muslim population is not that easy for the BJP. It had fielded Metroman E Sreedharan as the chief ministerial candidate in the Kerala assembly elections but without any success. Not willing to concede, BJP wants to cut into traditional Congress votes and make its presence felt in God’s own territory called Kerala. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been working in the state and has lost many of its cadres to violence but refuses to give them away.

Karnataka in Southern India has been favorable to the BJP. It won 25 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections. It won 17 seats in the 2014 elections. With its government in Karnataka, BJP intends to repeat its 2019 performance. Its rival Congress has been offering freebies to wean away voters. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi promised Rs 2000 to every woman head of a family in Karnataka if the party came to power. BJP has made it clear that it will go solo in Karnataka assembly polls and also in Lok Sabha polls, BJP has drawn an elaborate battle plan to win both elections in the important state of the Southern part. Its well-oiled election machinery is going full throttle to ensure that it retains power in Karnataka and also wins all the Lok Sabha seats in 2024.

 BJP is known to push hard to accomplice its electoral victory. What remains to be seen is its forays into the tough territories of the southern part of the country. It had started to analyze its defeat on 142 parliamentary seats in the 2019 elections. While other political parties were distracted, BJP has been focused on the relentless pursuit of its win in the mother of all battles called the 2024 General Elections.

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