We are optimistic of getting a posiative response from TRS, YSR Congress: BJP
Hyderabad: Buoyed with two recent popular measures by the Narendra Modi led government at the Centre, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun efforts to woo the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana and YSR Congress in Andhra into the ruling NDA coalition. Though these two parties are positively inclined towards Prime Minister Modi, they are yet to respond to the overtures by the BJP leadership, according to party sources.
The passage by Parliament of the 10% quota to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in government jobs and educational seats and the relaxation of GST norms for small and medium businessmen are the two major decisions that have enhanced the acceptability of the BJP among the general public.
The BJP leadership in both states is upbeat following the positive response it has received from the people to these two policy initiatives, amidst a gloomy background of reversals the party had suffered in last month’s Assembly elections in five states. A senior BJP leader told this newspaper: “We are optimistic of getting a positive response from both TRS and YSR Congress for our alliance proposals.”
Two BJP senior leaders from Delhi are coordinating seat-sharing matters in these two states and are being helped by local leaders who are in talks with the leaders of these two parties. Surprisingly, the EWS quota and GST reforms have come as a relief to the BJP which was finding it hard to get new allies in both the Telugu speaking states.
Till now, both TRS and YSR Congress have made it clear that they will go it alone in the coming Lok Sabha elections and any possible post-poll tie up will depend on the parliamentary arithmetic that emerges later. TRS president and Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has claimed that he was for a federal front without Congress and BJP, but YSR Congress’ Jagan hasn’t yet opened up on that.
However, the cordial meeting TRS MPs had with PM Modi in Parliament House early this week indicated warm relations between the two. When TRS MPs submitted him with a memorandum on a range of issues, including 12% reservations for Muslims and 10% for STs, the PM congratulated them on the party’s victory in Telangana and jokingly asked them for sweets.
The MPs thanked the PM for granting a separate High Court to Telangana, a long time demand from them and on other administrative sanctions. Though the issue of political alliances for Lok Sabha polls hasn’t figured, the PM appeared to be enjoying the Congress’ defeat in Telangana despite the party’s high voltage campaign.
PM Modi mentioned the same at a video conference he had with local BJP leaders from the coastal and Rayala Seema regions last week as part of a “Mera Booth, Majboot” (my polling booth is strongest) programme. The PM told the BJP leaders that the results of Telangana will be repeated in Andhra also and that TDP would be defeated both in the Assembly and Parliament elections.
The PM also analysed that the defeat of the Maha Kutami (grand alliance) experiment in Telangana would be repeated elsewhere in the country and predicted that the Congress and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu would not succeed in their efforts to form an anti-BJP platform. The BJP leaders who were present in the video conference told this newspaper that the PM appeared to be counting on KCR and Jagan on his side.
A senior BJP MLC from Andhra confirmed the efforts by the national secretaries to reach to TRS and YSR Congress in the wake of the growing popularity of the PM after the EWS Bill and GST reforms. “They (KCR and Jagan) may back us after the elections if we fall short of any seats to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha, but we want a pre-poll alliance with them,” said the BJP leader, preferring anonymity.
Jagan, who wound up his 341-day 3,649 km long Padayatra at Ichhapuram in Srikakulam district on 10 January, has begun discussions with his party seniors on the preparations for the Assembly and LS polls. Before winding up his Padayatra, he said that his party would prefer to go it alone in the elections, but sources close to him said that a final decision on this would be taken soon.
Some leaders in his party including his political strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC are arguing for seat adjustments with BJP so as to ensure a clear victory over Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP which will enter into an alliance with Congress in Andhra too. A few YSR Congress leaders are also batting for a tie-up with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena along with BJP. Presently, Jagan is not ready to sacrifice too many seats for the sake of an alliance and he feels that the experience of Naidu in forging tie-ups with other parties in Telangana proved to be a non-starter. Moreover, Jagan told his party leaders that the numerically strong Kapu community was with him rather than Pawan Kalyan.
BJP leaders in Andhra are hopeful that Jagan might not say no to them as they would not be asking for many seats and that the Centre had taken a series of decisions of late to politically benefit Jagan in Andhra, like agreeing to a probe by NIA into the knife attack on him at the Visakhapatnam airport as was demanded by YSR Congress.