The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is working on a plan to intensify its membership drive in Andhra Pradesh and focus on smaller outreach programmes instead of canvassing through bigger rallies and roadshows ahead of the 2024 elections in the state. Functionaries aware of the matter said the decision to hold meetings on a smaller scale in far-flung areas was taken following the response to the Praja Poru Yatra in September.

“As part of the yatra, we conducted public meetings across 5,000 places in 26 districts. The response was very encouraging and people are now looking at the BJP as the alternative to the [ruling] YSRCP [Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party] and the Telegu Desam Party (TDP), both of which have not been able to meet the aspirations of the state,” said a state BJP functionary.

The BJP’s electioneering plans, including increasing the membership from the current 800000, will be discussed at the meeting of the state’s core group on September 15-16 in Hyderabad. Shiv Prakash, national joint general secretary (organisation), will chair the meeting.

The BJP could not win any Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2019 national elections. It does not have any legislators in the 175-member assembly either.

A second BJP functionary said when it was in power the TDP did not focus on the entire state. “…the same goes for the YSRCP and you only need to look at Ralayseema to understand why there has been no development and it is considered as the state’s most backward region.”

The BJP has ruled out any truck with the YSRCP, which is counted as its friendly party at the Centre, and has lent support on key legislative issues. It has announced there will be no alliance with the TDP, which quit the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre after the BJP came to power in 2014.

The first functionary said the BJP will contest on its own and have support from Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena. “…but there will be no truck with the TDP or the YSRCP, which have plunged the state into an economic crisis. The freebies and the faulty economic policies are pushing the state to the brink of a collapse.”

The BJP’s vote share in Andhra in the 2019 Lok Sabha election was less than 1%. Jana Sena bagged 5.54% votes. YSRCP got 49.95% and TDP 39.26% votes.

The BJP is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity to strengthen its presence in the state and improve its tally in both the 2024 assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP’s state unit is gearing up to make corruption a key poll issue. “Chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has only been talking about building homes for himself…what about homes for the poor? There is a need to spend money on the development of the state, but he keeps referring to multiple state capitals…” the second functionary said.

The Andhra Pradesh high court has ordered Amaravati’s development as the state capital and ruled the government has no right to enact fresh legislation for three capitals. Reddy wants Vishakapatnam to be the administrative, Amaravati the legislative, and Kurnool the judicial capital.

The BJP also plans to distribute the material on the central schemes, their implementation in the state, and the projects sanctioned for Andhra Pradesh to underline the Centre’s help to the state.

By Shadab

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