Most states in India are now painted saffron. But South India still manages to look different in the current political landscape. To effect a change in that reality, BJP’s central leadership has decided to raise its appeal in the southern part of the country. BJP President Amit Shah has given party leaders a “South Mission” blueprint that will aim to tap into the fluid political situation and prospective re-alignments in the five southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, as reported by The Indian Express.
A senior BJP leader told The Indian Express that a strong RSS network has been created in the southern states over the years and this will form the natural platform for the plan to take off.
BJP’s ”’South Mission” will face its first test when Karnataka goes to polls later this year. BJP’s strategy centers around poaching of established leaders from other parties, bringing in some of the party’s own leaders from other states, inducting popular film stars and even breaking local political parties.
Tamil Nadu will prove to be a big challenge for the BJP. Even though AIADMK’s internal crisis has left the party in disarray, the DMK does not seem to be in a position to exploit the current situation to its own advantage. BJP thinks that unlike 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, reports IE.
BJP’s general Secretary for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu P Muralidhar Rao says ”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 people in the state will not tolerate corruption like they had done under Jayalalithaa or Karunanidhi, people today do not want 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”.
BJP reasons that it is unlikely that the Congress could emerge strong anytime soon, the BJP could become the alternative, by default, if not by design. For the time being the saffron party is laying low, as it does not want to rock the boat ahead of the Presidential Elections.
BJP wants to rope in popular film stars as cine stars have a huge following in Tamil Nadu. Indian Express reports that BJP unsuccessfully tried to rope in actor Rajnikanth into its fold.
BJP speculates that the fall of Congress at the national level will hasten decline of the grand old party in Kerala. BJP also hopes to capitalise on the infighting in the CPI(M)-led LDF in the state.
BJP is also trying to bring in actors to boost its image in Kerala. While Suresh Gopi is already a BJP Rajya Sabha member from the state, Mohanlal is another actor the party is eyeing.
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In Telangana, BJP leaders say, it won’t be easy for Congress to take an anti-TRS stance, as both parties follow the same policies. Congress has been weakened in the state after many of its leaders, including sitting MLAs, joined the TRS.
In Andhra Pradesh, BJP is part of an alliance led by the TDP, BJP sees this space as a serious platform for bargaining. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the chief of the prominent opposition party the YSR Congress, is facing fresh trouble in his disproportionate assets case and the BJP feels his political career is on the backburner until his name is cleared.
Jagan Mohan Reddy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and told him that YSR Congress will offer support to any candidate the BJP fields for the upcoming Presidential election.The BJP wants to woo former Congress leaders who haven’t joined the YSR Congress.
In Karnataka, which will go to polls next year, BJP is hoping that the anti-incumbency will work in their favour.