Visakhapatnam

BJP-JSP combine faces uphill task

With the election for the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation just a few days away, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be facing an uphill task.

This time it has entered the fray in alliance with Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) and is sharing the 98 wards almost equally.

The Visakhapatnam Municipality had become a corporation in 1979, with around 50 wards, and the first corporation election was held in 1981. The election was then won by the BJP, and NSN Reddy had become the first Mayor of the city. But things have changed since then. In the last few corporation elections, including the last one that was held in 2007, it was a power struggle between the TDP and the Congress.

This time BJP-JSP combine will be fighting with both the TDP and the YSR Congress Party.

After a successful outing in 2014 general and Assembly elections, when the BJP had won the Visakhapatnam (North) MLA seat and the MP berth, it slumped in 2019 elections. In 2014, K. Haribabu of BJP was elected as Visakhapatnam MP and Vishnu Kumar Raju was Visakhapatnam (North) MLA.

But in 2019, the fortunes reversed and the BJP did not win any seat in the entire State, as the Special Category Status, was the bone of contention. Now for the corporation election, the proposed privatisation of Visakahpatnam Steel Plant by the Union government, might once again put the party on a difficult turf.

But leaders from both the BJP and the JSP exude confidence and say that the combine would do well.

Admitting that there was a drop in the enthusiasm level of the candidates, due to the prolonged delay of over a year, party leaders say that things are just picking up. The elections were supposed to be held in March 2020, but due to COVID-19 pandemic, it was stopped and in the last one year, much water has flowed and candidates have changed their political affinity, across party lines, said former BJP MLA Vishnu Kumar Raju.

Voter turnout

On an optimistic note, both Mr. Raju and General Secretary of JSP Bolisetty Satyanarayana said that the fortunes of the party hinges on the electorate turnout.

Both the leaders were of the opinion that bringing educated people to the polling station has been low in the city and it holds the key to their success.

The electorate in the slums, which comprise around 35%, can be manipulated by money and liquor, but the remaining 65% should come out freely and cast their franchise, said Mr. Raju. Even in the last two general and Assembly elections, the percentage of voting in the entire district was below 68%, and in the city it was even more less.

To bring the voters to the polling booths, the State government should order closure of cinemas and shopping malls, at least till 5 p.m. on the voting day, felt Mr. Vishnu Kumar Raju.

Mr. Satyanarayana also hopes that youth, which comprise about 50% of the electorate, can change the tide and the combine hopes to encash Mr. Pawan Kalyan’s popularity.

The leaders from BJP-JSP combine also feel that VSP issue would not be a hurdle, as the leaders from both the parties had long discussions with Union Ministers Amit Shah and Nirmala Sitharaman and things would be worked out.

The former BJP MLA also felt that the party had missed the bus in communicating the welfare schemes to the electorate.

Admitting the parties failure, he said, “Every house given to the poor, whether it was given by the present YSRCP government or the earlier TDP, a major chunk of subsidy, about 50%, was from the Union government. But this has not gone to the people.”

Mr. Satyanaryana also feels that JSP’s concern for environment and pollution, may also go well with the people.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 9:02:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/bjp-jsp-combine-faces-uphill-task/article33927918.ece

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