Analysis: Why have Amit Shah, Nadda left everyone confused on BJP’s stand in AP

Analysis: Why have Amit Shah, Nadda left everyone confused on BJP’s stand in AP

HYDERABAD: The sudden, aggressive posturing adopted by two of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s top guns against the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh in the last two days has seemingly left the party cadre in high spirits. There was chest-thumping, more from its leaders than the ordinary activists over the manner in which the party finally shed its inhibitions and addressed the YS Jagan conundrum.

All of a sudden, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be on the fast track and in the poll mood in Andhra Pradesh with its uncharacteristic belligerence and uninhibitedly targetted attack against YS Jaganmohan Reddy and his government. In the space of two days, BJP National President J P Nadda and party strongman and Union Home Minister Amit Shah dashed down to the coastal state, to tom-tom Narendra Modi’s achievements in the last nine years and pooh-pooh the YSRCP regime with loads of mud-slinging, at least as the YSRCP men would grudgingly call it.

For the ordinary BJP cadre, who have been mere bystanders in the state politics, the added nip in rhetoric and incision in accusations, used by both JP Nadda in Srikalahasti on Saturday and then Amit Shah in Visakhapatnam on Sunday, must have come as a morale booster. But here is a paradoxical dilemma that the BJP’s new-found approach, vis-a-vis the YS Jagan government, has thrown up. Has the BJP really succeeded in clarifying its stand on the long-persisting fluidity of the opposition unity or only ended up confusing every major political stakeholder of Andhra Pradesh – YSRCP, TDP and Jana Sena – and even its own ranks with its bewildering shift of gears?

At Srikalahasti and Visakhapatnam, the saffron endeavour significantly came with two shades to it. Both JP Nadda and Amit Shah were no holds-barred in castigating YS Jagan for ‘hijacking Central schemes’ and remorselessly painted his regime with the hue of corruption. Coming from a national party, which is still struggling to find its foothold in Andhra Pradesh politics, this change in narrative wasn’t all that shocking. But its suddenness certainly was.

Despite its alliance with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena and its dilly-dallying on courting Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP once again, the BJP has always been perceived to be the ‘big brother in disguise’ in Delhi and criticised for soft-pedalling with YS Jagan’s YSRCP in the last four years. A lot of this is based on its parliamentary business interests where the YSRCP’s numerical support has proven to be crucial on more occasions than one. Precisely for this reason, there are no serious takers for the BJP’s daily dose of Jagan-bashing in Andhra Pradesh, something that the political circles would treat as mere eyewash and meant for public consumption.

Also, the JP Nadda-Amit Shah gunfire does not come entirely unannounced. The deft political manoeuvring, aimed at suddenly positioning the BJP as a bitter enemy of the YSRCP, incidentally comes within a week of YS Jagan’s much-talked-about Delhi visit. It created quite a buzz with many media houses speculating on a quiet pact for an early poll in the state. And seeing things from this prism, it would only be preposterous to assume that all hell broke loose in just one week since then to turn the two parties into bitter foes.

In the hindsight, this could be passed off as mere wild goose chase. And in contrast, the new joinees of the saffron brigade like former chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy might as well be patting their own backs for influencing a clear, palpable change in the party’s approach. Going one step ahead, it could also be seen, in the public domain, as a fallout of the recent buildup where the BJP was seen letting the TDP and its chief Chandrababu Naidu cozy up to it again. By far, this would be the most appetising insinuation for the sudden aggression in the BJP ranks against the ruling YSRCP and YS Jagan in Andhra Pradesh.

But there is a catch to this one too, which, once fully discerned, is certain to leave its alliance partner Jana Sena and the TDP on tenterhooks while ending up perplexing its own BJP cadre and the YSRCP as well. As everyone noticed, both Nadda and Amit Shah made impassioned calls to the Andhra Pradesh people to ‘bless the BJP and Narendra Modi with at least 20 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats’ from the state. Even if this means wishful thinking, given its distressing base strength in the state, one cannot blame a national party for harbouring such fancied political aspirations.

But how it translates into the end game with the Jana Sena – and possibly even the TDP at a later stage – in the mix is where the problem lies for all the three parties. By seeking 20 out 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state on its own weight, is the BJP signalling at a solo fight at the hustings? Or are the latest optics a part of subtle messaging to the Jana Sena on how its ground strength is perceived and assessed by its senior partner, and hence a few crumbs is all that it will get in an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls?

And where does the TDP stand in this conjectured alliance in future where the three parties see no option but to form a hotchpotch yet again to fight the YSRCP?

On the other hand, the YSRCP, its clout within the Delhi’s corridors of power notwithstanding, should be staring at a tightrope walk on how to serve the retort to win some brownie points while ensuring that the egos of the NDA bosses are not bruised. The reasons for YS Jagan’s diffidence in making peace with the Modi regime are not too difficult to figure out and in fact common knowledge in the political realm.

But on a strange note, the BJP hankering for the lion’s share of Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh is not just a point to ponder for the YSRCP. In fact, it should be equally puzzling for the Jana Sena and the TDP even as they would be carefully digging into the intricate interpretations of this message. And spare a thought for the flag-wielding BJP worker who would also be scratching his head, struggling to fathom the party leadership’s game plan for Andhra Pradesh.

In a nutshell, JP Nadda and Amit Shah combined well to enthuse their party cadre. But they only ended up adding more ambiguity to the prevailing confusion at a time a clarity of sorts was expected of them on their party’s way forward, or call it the much-touted roadmap, in Andhra Pradesh.

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