If the BJP’s victory in the 2004 parliamentary elections was a Modi-wave, the results of the last election to five states could be described as tsunami. The achievements have expanded the territories under BJP rule. His next stops should include Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha where elections are due next year.
Amit Shah and his team can pitch their tents to prompt in Karnataka which had BJP rule during 2008-13. He can be expected to strengthen the Sangh Parivar at the grassroots and prepare it for the 2018 elections. The record of the Siddaramaiah government has not been flattering. With the failure of the monsoon, Karnataka has been suffering a distressed agriculture and hence rural economy. Anti-incumbency would be an added plus factor for BJP.
In Andhra Pradesh BJP has the Telugu Desam party as an ally. And with both Naidu and Modi on the same page as far as development goes, the partnership should work well.
Focus on Tamil Nadu
So the focus of the BJP in the south would be on building the party in Tamil Nadu which has 39 Lok Sabha and 18 Rajya Sabha seats. Charismatic leaders like
C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, M G Rama-chandran and J Jayalalithaa dominated the state politics. These commanded unstinted loyalty of and sustained support from large sections of the masses. With the demise of Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK in power is facing dissensions. The Age-related sickness of the nonagenarian Karunanidhi and aging other stalwarts of the party like K Anbazhagan have led to the DMK losing its hold on the masses. Recent elections to the Lok Sabha and the assembly have also rendered several other political outfits like the CPM and CPI the PMK, the DMDK, MDMK, weak with no seats in the Assembly.
The Congress that lost power in 1967 has been riding piggyback on the DMK or AIADMK and is faction-ridden with its leaders each content to head small groups of followers. Their multitude of leaders are not working in sync on issues and are unable to rebuild the party.
So the field is wide open for BJP, but the party suffers from the lack of popular leaders. The pervasive corruption that extends to all economic activities and administration, recruitment to government jobs, tenders to public works, lack of employment, the poor state of the state’s finances and falling growth rates make the state polity a sitting duck to capture.
The Dravidian parties have been focusing on winning votes through freebies. These in themselves suffer abuse in the form of leakages, corruption and short deliveries. Look at two such areas: the free Thali scheme: the bride is offered eight grams of gold along with free sarees, dhotis, household utensils... There is the complaint that the quality of gold is not to the standard and also to the manipulation of weight; thus lakhs of rupees are siphoned away. The fans, mixies and grinders handed free to large numbers on which thousands of crores were spent and are procured on lowest tenders from China and their quality is poor.
Also, relate this to the various tenders for public works, which benefit large sections of politicians and bureaucrats with little audit of the quality and quantity delivered. A recent complaint was on the crores of rupees given to contractors for desilting lakes and dam sites where hardly desilting was done.
BJP can start with its focus on two areas to attack the widespread corruption: an immediate demand can be on setting up a Lok Aayukta to handle complaints of corruption right up to the chief minister. Two, get thousands of undergrad students in colleges register for voting and apprise them of clean politics and administration.
BJP president Amit Shah, known for his organisational expertise, could focus on these areas. With a weak leadership and elections due only in 2021, there is also the prospect for roping AIADMK as an ally like the TDP and ensure its full support.