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Tapping 5 states in south is key to BJP’s expansion blueprint

The BJP’s reasoning is that as the Congress is unlikely to emerge strong anytime soon, the BJP could become the alternative, by default, if not by design.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: May 12, 2017 9:42 am
BJP, BJP expansion, amit shah, amit shah south india, bjp south india, india news, indian express BJP president Amit Shah has given a South Mission blueprint to party leaders. (Source: File Photo)

KEY to the BJP’s ambition of nationwide dominance is its plan to expand its base in southern India on the back of the RSS and the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To that effect, BJP chief Amit Shah has given a “South Mission” blueprint to party leaders that aims to tap into the fluid political situation and prospective re-alignments in five states: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, party sources have told The Indian Express.

“In these states, a strong RSS network has been built over the years and this will form the natural platform for the plan to take off,” said a senior BJP leader. The party’s “South Mission” faces its first test in Karnataka which goes to polls later this year. Critical to South Mission is also the import of established leaders from other parties, bringing in some of the party’s own leaders from other states, induct popular film stars and even break local parties.

BJP, BJP expansion, amit shah, amit shah south india, bjp south india

“The situation is fluid in Tamil Nadu. Although the internal crisis in AIADMK has left the party in a disarray, the DMK is not in a position to take advantage of it. Because, unlike in the past, when people in the state tolerated corruption under J Jayalalithaa or M Karunanidhi, today’s population is in no mood to see the corrupt in power. They want to get rid of them. M K Stalin is not even making an attempt to stand against corruption,” said P Muralidhar Rao, BJP General Secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The BJP’s reasoning is that as the Congress is unlikely to emerge strong anytime soon, the BJP could become the alternative, by default, if not by design. But that’s easier said than done. For the time being, though, the party leadership doesn’t want to rock any boat ahead of the Presidential elections in which the NDA requires support of an undivided AIADMK.

BJP leaders believe that roping in a popular film star into the party structure in the state — where cine artists have made it big in electoral politics — will help script its success. The BJP’s plan to get Rajnikanth hasn’t quite been a success. The superstar’s meeting with BJP candidate in R K Nagar bypolls Gangai Amaran refreshed such speculation — but sources said the party had other popular stars like Vishal and Vijay also in mind. “A popular star at the leadership position can change the situation dramatically. Getting one of them at the helm of affairs is one of our plans,” said a party leader familiar with the state unit.

In neighbouring Kerala, the BJP’s calculation is that the fall of the Congress at the national level will hasten its decline in the state. And the fight within the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF will also help. “The minority or the demography no longer remain a challenge to the BJP in its electoral performance,” added Rao.

The weakening of the Congress and the divide within the Left could trigger “major political changes and realignment,” in the state, a leader said adding: “(In Kerala) there will be an anti-Communist alignment and the BJP will be a major player in it,” a leader said.

Getting a superstar is part of BJP’s Kerala strategy as well. While Suresh Gopi is already a Rajya Sabha member from the state, Mohanlal is another actor the party would like to get on board.

In Telangana, party leaders say, it isn’t easy for the Congress to take the anti-TRS space as “both the ruling TRS and the Congress follow the same policies.” Congress has already been weakened after many of its leaders, including sitting MLAs, joined the TRS.

“The Opposition space will be occupied by the BJP in Telangana,” said one BJP leader. The BJP has already launched an agitation against the Telangana government’s decision to increase quota for backward Muslims.

In Andhra Pradesh, where the BJP is in alliance with the ruling TDP, BJP sees space for serious bargaining. The prominent Opposition party YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy is facing fresh trouble in his disproportionate assets case and the BJP feels his political career will be on the backburner until he is absolved of these charges.

Interestingly, Jagan Mohan Reddy who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence yesterday, said the YSR Congress will offer support to any candidate the BJP fields for the upcoming Presidential election. “We have very less difference in opinion. Except for differences on the land acquisition bill and special status for Andhra Pradesh, we share similar opinions on various issues which we think are pro-people,” Jagan told reporters after the meeting.

In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP also wants to woo former Congress leaders who did not join the YSR Congress. In poll-bound Karnataka, the BJP is banking on anti-incumbency undermining the JD-Secular and the Congress.

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  1. Ruru Koshy
    May 12, 2017 at 11:19 pm
    I'm extremely sorry for being such a racist ... But, Modi Government is forcing me to say it... 1) Control our diet... Forcing us to be a Vegetarian and forcing not to eat Cow Meat... 2) Forcing us to learn the Aryan Languages "Sanskrit and Hindi"... 3) Forcing us to worship the Aryan God "Ram"... even if you are atheist... 4) Forcing us to hate another...
    1. Ruru Koshy
      May 12, 2017 at 11:00 pm
      Blood is thicker than Religion and Nation... I don't find any difference between a North Indian and a stani... 'cause they all belong to the same sub-race, Indo-Aryan... and I'm a Dravidian... and we don't want any North Indian Aryan Party down here in the Dravidian Land... 'cause All what that Aryan Party BJP is force us to do is hate an another... Thanks to the Communist Party in Kerala and the Dravidian and Secular Parties in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka in stopping the invading foreigners from North India...
      1. L
        May 12, 2017 at 7:49 pm
        BJP will indulge in uistic terrorism and south indians will be second cl citizens forever . They openly say they will promote hindi at the cost regional languages but not impose hindi. What is the difference?
        1. C
          Curious onlooker
          May 12, 2017 at 3:28 pm
          Kerala would not want to see the goodwill that exist among the three main religious groups in the State ruined by the arrival in their midst a dogmatically religious party to plant dissension. The recently concluded state elections saw Modi and Shah being soundly rebuffed for their impudence comparing Kerala to one of the lawless states in Africa. Po Mone Modi Po, an order by people to "go away" should not be easily forgotten. Any attempt to divide the people will meet with the same verdict.
          1. S
            May 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm
            Anybody who does extensive train travel in southern states of Karnataka , Kerala , Tamilnadu , and Andhra Pradesh would have observed as the person is travel in the Middle East - stations and trains having domineering numbers of burqua clad women and bearded men. Though official statistics show much less demographic profile of the community. BJP should be able to mobilize good percentage of citizens as one block riding on this general resentment. Time is ripe now to propagate awareness of Hindutva in southern states too , and it will be easier in southern states because of their affinity to Hindu culture and spirituality.
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