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Andhra Pradesh and Telangana offer hope and promise

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana offer hope and promise

The Telugu-speaking states need to be cautious and focus on development issues, rather than on the BJP’s polarising agenda

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Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 11:13 IST
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 11:13 IST
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A decade ago, Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence, Jawaharlal Nehru’s 'tryst with destiny' and B R Ambedkar’s dream of social democracy were sidelined in the mindless pursuit of crony capitalism.

Under the garb of development for all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the reins of the ‘mother of democracy’. What followed was a travesty of democratic ideals with students and intellectuals being jailed, dissent being criminalised, and the full weight of investigative agencies being unleashed on Opposition leaders, including the arrest of two chief ministers.

It was generally accepted that once anyone joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), their sins of commission and omission were absolved.

However, as the legend of Icarus testifies, unbridled ambition seldom succeeds. Even Adolf Hitler’s dream of a thousand-year Reich was shattered by the Allied forces.

The election results on June 4 have given the BJP a reality check. That said, under the Modi-Amit Shah regime, the BJP has made inroads into the southern states, especially the Telegu-speaking states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The strategy of political alliances with the local parties, and a carefully calibrated Hindutva agenda has reaped dividends.

In Telangana, the scenario was quite dramatic as the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), despite ruling the state until recently, could not go on the offensive against the BJP, ostensibly because one of its senior leaders is in jail and being investigated by central agencies. For the BRS, the Congress is their natural rival.

The BJP effectively employed the caste arithmetic by bringing together the Madigas, Mudiraj, Munnuru Kapus, and other backward castes. Home Minister Amit Shah personally took charge of Telangana, seeing that the BJP’s vote share had increased in the 2023 assembly elections. The saffron party succeeded in mobilising grassroots workers.

Despite its efforts, the Congress failed to work closely with the Bharat Jodo Abhiyan, Jago Telangana, and other civil society groups. Congress candidates could not reciprocate the work put in by civil society groups and many of them took the support of the Dalits, Muslims, and Christians for granted. Despite this, if the Congress has done well in Telangana, the credit must go to Chief Minister Revanth Reddy.

The defeat of civil servant-turned-politician R S Praveen Kumar from Nagarkurnool in Telangana is a big loss for the Dalit-Bahujan politics in the state. While in the service, he was instrumental in strengthening the educational infrastructure for the marginalised groups across the state.

In Andhra Pradesh, the ruling YSRCP faced its biggest political challenge, despite Jagan Mohan Reddy’s limitless competitive welfarism. The state failed to attract investments, infrastructure, and create adequate employment opportunities.

Reddy’s style of functioning, which favoured a few social groups, was unpopular among the people. Undoubtedly, there was a sympathy wave for Chandrababu Naidu for his arrest on flimsy charges.

The results of the 2024 Lok Sabha reflect a clear rejection of the politics of hate and bigotry. Naidu is poised to play a significant role at the national level. It is a historic opportunity for him to side with secular, democratic forces, and provide a new vision for India. He should be strategic in his political choices.

The Telugu-speaking states need to be cautious and focus on development issues, rather than on the BJP’s polarising agenda. The next five years will be crucial for safeguarding democratic ideals, social justice, and constitutional morality.

N Sukumar teaches Political Science at Delhi University, and is secretary, Bharat Jodo Abhiyan. Views are personal.

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