Chandrababu Naidu’s move in protest against Centre’s refusal to give Andhra ‘special state’ status will be a political setback for BJP ahead of 2019.

With the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) all set to walk out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the BJP is well aware that its chances of any pre-poll alliances in Andhra Pradesh are now bleak, and that it has to keep dialogue going to ensure post-poll options remain open.

Naidu’s move in protest against Andhra Pradesh not being granted a ‘special state’ status will be a political setback for the BJP in the run-up to next year’s Lok Sabha polls. A special category state gets 90 per cent of the funds from the Centre in a centrally-sponsored scheme as against 60 per cent in case of other states.

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Andhra Pradesh, which has 25 Lok Sabha seats, is crucial. The TDP won 16 of these seats in 2014, while the BJP won three.

According to top BJP sources, the party is fully aware that it is now as unpopular in Andhra Pradesh as the Congress used to be in 2014. The BJP knows that given how sensitive and emotive the issue of special status for the state is, no party, including Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress, will ally with it before the elections, the sources said.

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“We know no party in Andhra can now join hands with us before the polls. No party would risk antagonising the voters given how sensitive the issue of special status is for the state,” a party source told ThePrint, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Jagan Reddy is unlikely to have any truck with us since he cannot be seen as siding with a government that has not granted special status to Andhra Pradesh,” the source added.

The BJP is now looking at ensuring it keeps channels open with both Jagan Reddy and Naidu so that possibilities after the Lok Sabha results are not eliminated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met Jagan Reddy at various points.

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The BJP sources also said the PM was clear that since giving special status was not feasible, the party might have to fight it alone in Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu, meanwhile, has strategised carefully to pander to his voters and also to enhance his bargaining power after the Lok Sabha polls. BJP leaders do not rule out the possibility of TDP aligning with the BJP again after the Lok Sabha verdict, if the situation so demands.

The BJP is also relying on the calculation that Jagan Reddy’s issue with the Congress is deeply personal, and hence, he wouldn’t join hands with it. #KhabarLive

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