Desecration of idols and vandalism at temples in the state has provided it with a pretext to position itself as a protector of Hindu traditions. Routed in Assembly as well as Parliamentary elections in 2019, and with the Bharatiya Janata Party trying to get a foothold in the state, N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is rebranding its politics in Andhra Pradesh, with a pro-Hindu tilt.
Such communal politics is new to Andhra, and TDP probably felt the urgency and compulsion to change tack with the BJP having initiated an aggressive membership drive, and having announced a rath yatra now. Buoyed by its performance in neighbouring Telangana, the BJP is testing the waters in Andhra with plans to contest the Tirupati Parliamentary seat where a by-election is due following the recent death of YSRCP MP B Durgaprasad Rao.
If the BJP intensifies its powerful politics of polarisation, it will be easier to draw TDP support base into its fold rather than YSRCP support base which is solidly behind Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. If that happens, BJP will replace TDP in Andhra just as it has done so in Telangana by elbowing out the Congress,” says political scientist Prof K Nageshwara Rao.
That may be so, but it is the TDP, the NDA’s ally till a bitter break-up in March 2018, which has launched fiery attacks on the YSRCP government and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. “Chandrababu Naidu is using BJP’s tactics to keep his flock together and also counter the BJP. He has been scaling up Hindutva politics with each successful episode of BJP in Telangana.