After weeks of bargaining and protesting, the BJP and the TDP came to a seat sharing arrangement for the May 7 polls in Andhra Pradesh. But will this alliance help the saffron party make inroads in the Telangana region? Vicky Nanjappa finds out
The Bharatiya Janata Party has finally announced its list of eight candidates who would be fighting the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana.
The BJP candidates are: Vidyasagar Rao from Karimnagar, E Lakshminarayana from Nizambad, Chagendla Narendra Nath from Medak, B Dattatreya from Secunderabad, Bhagwanth Rao from Hyderabad, Nagam Janardhan Reddy from Mahbubnagar, Ramagalla Parameswar from Warangal and Indrasena Reddy from Bhuvanagiri.
Of all these constituencies, the BJP is banking heavily on the Secunderabad seat where they feel they have the best chance to win. This constituency has senior BJP leader, he is probably the best known face in the party in the region, Dattatreya. He has won this seat twice in the past and even has been a minister in the National Democratic Alliance under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The next seat that the BJP is looking to win is the Mahbubnagar constituency. Nagam Janardhan Reddy is a grassroots worker and a popular face. Although it is no cakewalk for him, the BJP is relying on the fact that the Telangana sentiment is less here compared with the rest of the region. This means that the TDP would come into play here which has a strong grassroots level team for the BJP’s help.
They are expecting a tough fight from the Congress, which has fielded Science and Technology Minister Jaipal Reddy. But his opponents also feel that Reddy is considered as an ‘outsider’ by many in this constituency, which may go against him.
From Karimnagar, the chances are not that good for the BJP. Vidyasagar Rao is no doubt a strong candidate and is related to Telangana Rashtra Samithi RS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. It was being said that Rao would be the man who would be the possible link if the BJP seeks out an alliance with the TRS after the elections. It was expected that this factor would make KCR field a weak candidate here, but then the TRS went on to field B Vinod Kumar, a senior leader.
Kumar had lost the elections in 2009, but this time is hoping to ride the Telangana wave, which will make his job easier, according to the experts. Nizambad has E Lakshminarayana from the BJP. He was a member of the legislative assembly and was even the floor leader of the BJP in the Andhra Pradesh assembly. The BJP does not have too much hope here.
The Hyderabad constituency appears to be a given to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. It has been the case since the past 30 years, and looks no different this time around either. The BJP has fielded Bhagwanth Rao from here. It is to be seen how much of a fight he can give to the MIM, which is represented by its chief, Asaduddin Owaisi. The chances of a win are very bleak not only for the BJP, but any other party.
Warangal is a reserved constituency. The BJP has fielded Ramagalla Prabhakar from here. He has a tough fight against the TRS which has fielded Kadiyam Srihari who was originally with the TDP. His moving to the TRS is considered to be a big loss, as he is considered to be a very strong candidate. Had Srihari stuck with the TDP, the party would have not agreed to hand over this seat to the BJP.
The Bhuvanagiri parliamentary seat with Indrasena Reddy does not appear to be a winning seat for the BJP. Many within the party say that the fight is very tough for him. Bhuvanagiri is a mere 58-minute drive from Hyderabad. This constituency for the BJP is important as part of its future plans, and the party feels that in a matter of five to six years, they will be able to make this their stronghold.
For the BJP in Telangana, the alliance with the TDP has turned out to be both a gain and a drain. The TDP cadre at the grassroots is 30 times the size of the BJP. In parts where the Telangana sentiment is not too strong, the BJP will gain from the cadre strength of the TDP.
While this would be the gain, the drain would be in the areas where the Telangana sentiment is high. Many see the TDP being part of the National Democratic Alliance, and if this were to happen, they feel Chandrababu Naidu would seek a lion’s share of the funds for Seema-Andhra.
Interestingly, the TDP has been traditionally very strong in Telangana. The TRS which appears to be the strongest here had to depend on the Congress in 2004 and the TDP in 2009 to fight the elections. Moreover, when Chandrababu was the chief minister, he was more popular in Telangana when compared with Seema-Andhra as he is said to have performed better in this region.
The trouble for Chandrababu began when he had to take a stand on the Telangana issue and chose Seema-Andhra instead.
There is no doubt that Telangana is riding high on the statehood sentiment. The BJP enjoys the goodwill, but it has never converted into votes. What the Telangana BJP want now is for Narendra Modi to counterbalance the sentiment. They feel only he can take away the momentum from the Congress and the TRS to a certain extent.
They want Modi to convince the people that the BJP which will form the government in Delhi and all the developmental works would depend on them. Moreover, the BJP also knows that the elections in Telangana this time are more focused towards the assembly segment, and both the TRS and the Congress are focusing more on this segment than the Lok Sabha polls.
The Telangana BJP expects the central leadership to break in to the Congress, especially as Telangana appears to be the only part of the country where this party does not have a negative wave.
They would want Modi to address several rallies here and ignite the anti-Congress sentiment.
Image: (From left) BJP's national treasurer Piyush Goyal, BJP national spokesperson Prakash Javadekar with TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and other leaders after they announced their alliance on Sunday in Hyderabad. Photograph: SnapsIndia