Triumphant BJP looks to cement foothold in Telangana, Odisha, Andhra
The three states account for 63 Lok Sabha seats and BJP won just 12 of these in 2019; it hopes to increase the count substantially in 2024
Buoyed by its wins in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in a direct contest against the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes to expand its electoral base in the states where it now has a marginal presence.
After defeating the Congress, the BJP leadership is confident that they have a better chance of gaining ground in Telangana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. They believe the momentum is in the favour of their party, especially in the Hindi-speaking states, and so it is time to try and improve the party’s standing in states where it is weak.
Before the Lok Sabha polls next year, the BJP wants to aggressively expand its network in Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The three states account for 63 Lok Sabha seats and the BJP won only 12 of these in 2019.
“Going by media reports, it looked like the Congress was in a comfortable position in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh but the results are completely different. Now that the BJP has secured its position in the northern states, we believe it will double its efforts to grow in Odisha,” said a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader in the know of the development.
The BJP won eight Lok Sabha seats in 2019 in Odisha. “In our assessment, it will make more efforts in the state now,” the leader told The Federal.
The BJD is clear that while it has provided crucial support to the BJP in Parliament and on important bills, this should not be construed as backing for the saffron party.
“The BJD leadership supports the BJP-led NDA in Parliament. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have a cordial understanding on crucial issues. It does not mean the BJD is ready to join the NDA. We have to acknowledge that the BJP is a competitor in Odisha,” added the BJD leader.
The BJP feels that its showing in Telangana – where it won eight Assembly seats with a vote share of 14 per cent – has led the party to be confident about the Lok Sabha battle. The BJP is confident of improving on its 2019 Lok Sabha tally of four seats out of 17.
Although the BJP remains a smaller player in Telangana, its wins now are better than five years ago, when it bagged just one Assembly seat with a vote share of almost 7 per cent.
“There are talks about an alliance with the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) but our state unit is categorical that there should be no understanding with the BRS. People voted for the BJP because of its stand against the BRS. If the BJP reaches an understanding with the BRS, people will lose faith in us,” said a Hyderabad-based BJP leader.
The BJP is not ready as yet to annoy Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The party has the support of both the YSRCP, Jagan's party, and the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the state. BJP leaders say there is no reason to pick between the two parties.
Political analysts believe the BJP has reasons to celebrate after its recent victories but continues to have challenges in West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and several other states.
“If we look at the leadership and organisational network of the BJP, it is far superior to any other party in the country. The recent results emphasise the BJP has a complete hold over the northern states. The BJP will now want to expand its base to end criticism that it is not strong in southern states. The BJP will try to revive itself in Karnataka for the Lok Sabha election,” observed Ashutosh Kumar, a political science professor at Panjab University.