Since TDP broke their alliance with the BJP, the party has become very serious about coming to power on its own in the state of Andhra Pradesh. BJP has never had a powerful support base in the state since independence, and the number of seats won by the party never reached double digits in any Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha election. Since its inception, BJP has mostly collaborated with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for elections due to their common opposition to Congress party. In the last Lok Sabha election, BJP won 2 seats in alliance with TDP and 4 seats in Vidhan Sabha elections. N Chandrababu Naidu, who was considered one of the most trusted allies of the BJP, broke away from the party on the issue of Special Status for the state of Andhra Pradesh. The real reason behind the breaking of the alliance may have been a problem in sharing of seats. Since the alliance broke, TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu has been attacking BJP constantly to undermine their chances of contention in the state. Both the regional parties TDP and YSRCP are trying to portray BJP as anti-Andhra to crack down on any leverage that BJP may get in the state. The TDP in its recent party congress focused on criticizing BJP, the reason behind this being that the support base of BJP and TDP overlap. Both parties fought the 2014 assembly election together and won with a majority.
To make a turnaround in the state, BJP has deployed its most formidable strategist Ram Madhav. Ram Madhav is known to be the man who changed the fortunes of the party in Jammu & Kashmir and the northeastern states. The party under the leadership of Ram Madhav is supposed to have three main strategies as per media reports. The first strategy under the leadership of Ram Madhav is an attempt to to woo the Kapu community which is more than 15 percent of the state in order to become a serious contender for the CM chair in the state. The other two major parties YSRCP and TDP are dominated by Reddy and Kamma communities respectively. These communities have numerically lower strength than Kapus but enjoy a disproportionate share of power in Andhra Pradesh, which is the reason behind BJP‘s confidence that it will be able get support of the Kapu community.
The Reddys have been the politically most powerful as most of Chief Ministers in the state since independence have hailed from the Reddy sub-caste despite the fact that the community has just little over 5 percent population in the state. Another reason behind this was that for most of the time since independence, Congress ruled the state, and the Congress unit of the state was completely dominated by Reddys. The Kamma community dominates the business, media and film industry. In the field of politics, it was a late entrant as it started making a dent in the politics of the state after the formation of the TDP. The Kapu community has changed sides between Congress and TDP according to the deal the community gets. In the recent election, Kapu actor and politician Pawan kalian campaigned for the TDP-BJP alliance, and Kapus voted for them en mass. Chandrababu Naidu even made a person from the Kapu community the Deputy Chief Minister of the state, although he controls no real power in the state executive.
The second strategy is Operation Garuda, which seems like a sinister conspiracy theory according to N Chandrababu Naidu. As per this theory, BJP is trying to undermine TDP in a secret understanding with Pawan Kalyan’s Jan Sena and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP. If these parties actually form an alliance then they would be able to bring the Kapu community, Reddy community, and Dalits in the state under one umbrella, and TDP will have no options left to win the election.
The third strategy is poaching the Congress leaders which ruled Andhra Pradesh for the longest time since independence. Although the Congress has weakened in the state its leaders have good electoral base, therefore, BJP may try to bring Congress leaders into its fold as it will be mutually beneficial. The Congress leaders will be able to resurrect themselves while BJP will get the electoral benefit.
It will be interesting to see which strategy the BJP goes with under the leadership of Ram Madhav. Whatever strategy BJP adopts, an increase in its activities has given sleepless nights to TDP and YSRCP.