Even the most superficial observer of BJP’s realpolitik would concede that the party has a clear pattern when it comes to making forays into new States. They usually piggyback with the regional ruling parties and solidify their base and attempt to pull the rug from under their feet. Or in other words, they are past-masters at playing ‘head, I win – tails you lose’ game. Examples abound from Punjab (Akali Dal) to Odisha (BJD) to Tamil Nadu (AIADMK) to Bihar (JDU).
This is precisely what they tried to do when in an alliance with the TDP in the State from 2014 -2018. They even got a couple of cabinet posts for their MLAs. Being in power at the Centre, in a quasi-federal country like India, is crucial leverage that goes without saying. Once they sensed that TDP is going down and that YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP looked all set to win, they seemed to have comfortably forgotten all that corrupt ill-begotten wealth of the YSR scion.
There are other also reasons for doing so. The TDP’s ill-fated alliance with the INC in the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections started the slide. Later on, the perception bubble created in the runup to the 2019 National General Election with Chandrababu Naidu crisscrossing the country and rubbing shoulders with opposition leaders, made Amit Shah go so far as to say that the TDP is never welcome back into the NDA fold. Political observers also mentioned that over the next two years, the BJP would be dependent on crucial YSRCP members in the Rajya Sabha.
From Jagan’s point of view, there were two advantages to this. One, he understands that the BJP would keep his nemesis, that investigative parrot tightly locked up in the cage. Second, he could count all those Modi supporters in the State in his account. Ever since Jagan assumed power, the BJP was back to playing its trite tunes. It attempted to manufacture an unnecessary controversy, West Bengal style, over Jagan’s scheme to pay salaries to pastors, imams and muezzins. Later an advert about Haj scheme on TTD tickets was picked up, which caused quite the storm forcing the government to accept their oversight. And amongst all this Jagan’s religious identity was under attack. This has forced the party to vote in favour of the CAB.
Nonetheless, the BJP has kept Jagan at arm’s length, also calling a semi-formal alliance with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party, entertained friendly overtures from TDP and more specifically from N Chandrababu Naidu. They are already filling in the opposition void in Telangana due to the INC’s outdated appeal. With their plans of social engineering by openly courting the Kapu community, they seem to be sitting pretty in AP too for now.