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For BJP, victory in 2024 hinges on a new goalpost. PM Modi’s Southern Sojourn Is Proof

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is clearly focused on launching his campaign from the southern part of India in preparation for the 2024 parliamentary elections. The significance of his two-day southern stay in four states to launch various projects lies in the fact that he has decided taking the weekend off from Gujarat to travel to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh – two of which are en route to the 2023 municipal elections.

PM Modi’s message and meaning in this journey are one and the same – to ensure that South India becomes a BJP bastion and narrows the North-South divide.

As political scientist Sandeep Shastri puts it: “A pattern has emerged. In 2014, the BJP focused on Northern India, Western India and Central India. In 2019, the focus was on East India and Northeast India. It is clear that it will be the turn of the South in 2024.”

Shastri calls Karnataka and Telangana the two starting points where the BJP sees its best chance, and also points out that Prime Minister Modi’s visit is part of the BJP’s larger pan-Indian plans to conquer the south, a region that the party has not been able to win politics over.

“The Karnataka election is in a few months and Telangana will also face elections in less than a year. Both states will undergo polls ahead of the Lok Sabha struggle in 2024 and both elections are very important for the BJP. In Karnataka they have to defend their government, while in Telangana they have clearly emerged as the leading opposition,” Shastri told News18.

PM Modi’s first stop is karnataka and he lands on the day the state celebrates “Kanakadasa Jayanti” in honor of the 16th-century poet-saint revered in all communities. While sounding the ballot box for Karnataka, the Prime Minister unveiled the 100-foot (30-meter) statue of the founder of Bengal’s city of Nadaprabhu Kempegowda, also known as the “Statue of Prosperity”, an image the BJP government in Karnataka is proud of. .

Two other major projects that were flagged were the first Vande Bharat Express in the south and the Terminal-2 of the Kempegowda International Airport, built at a cost of about Rs 5,000 crore. In addition to the Vande Bharat, Prime Minister Modi also launched the Bharat Gaurav Kashi Darshan train.

“While we have started preparations for elections, Prime Minister Modi’s visit will bring more strength and energy to the karyakartas. The ‘josh’ is high and this will be one of the Prime Minister’s many more Karnataka visits. Every time he comes, a special kind of energy flows through us and we are sure that Modi-ji will stand with us in Vidhan Soudha in 2023 as a BJP Prime Minister takes the oath,” said a senior party leader .

Modi travels alongside Tamil Nadu where the BJP has transformed itself into a strong opposition voice, while its ally AIADMK tries to gain a foothold with the growing internal conflict between leaders such as Edapadi Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam and VK Sasikala. News18 had previously reported that the party led by former IPS officer and now BJP head of state K Annamalai has not only grown stronger in cadre but also found itself a comfortable space as the third most important party in Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian politics.

“When Modi is in election mode, he is in election mode and no one can stop him,” Chennai-based political analyst Sumanth C Raman said of the importance of the prime minister’s visit. The BJP has identified two major targets in South India – Tamil Nadu and Telangana – where they plan to win by significant numbers.

“If there are any setbacks in the interior of Hindi, there must be compensation in terms of numbers from other states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana etc where the advantage is still available. Prime Minister Modi comes right in the middle of the Gujarat campaign, which is very important,” Raman said.

PM Modi will address the 36th Convocation Ceremony of Gandhigram Rural Institute in Tamil Nadu where more than 2,300 students from 2018-19 and 2019-20 batches will receive their diplomas.

But it is Telanganawhere the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) won the Munugode bypoll in a high-octane election fought aggressively between the TRS and the BJP, where the prime minister’s visit will be closely followed.

The Munugode seat brought disappointment to the BJP, as they hoped to capture it and expand the party’s base in southern Telangana. The Prime Minister’s visit at this time is critical as the ruling TRS government and the BJP are at each other’s throats, especially after Prime Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao claimed the BJP had poached its MLAs.

The BJP’s strategy for India’s youngest state has been very calculative and local party leaders tell News18 that the BJP has the potential to topple the TRS if they play their cards right.

“The opening of the Ramagundam Fertilizer factory indicates that Prime Minister Modi and the BJP will not miss an opportunity to play politics and be visible. It will also help the local BJP leaders to show when people ask what they (BJP) have done for Telangana. This is the Modi regime’s preparatory work for Telangana ahead of the 2023 parliamentary elections,” said Hyderabad-based political commentator Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Telangana’s 9,500 crore Ramagundam manure plant will be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Modi. He will also inaugurate the Bhadrachalam Road-Sattupalli railway, built for about Rs 1,000 crore, along with other road infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 2,200 crore.

While the Prime Minister is laying the foundation stone for projects worth more than Rs 25,000 crore in the four southern states, Andhra Pradesh sees the highest value of infrastructure and development projects being opened. These include the Andhra Pradesh section of the six-lane Greenfield Raipur-Visakhapatnam Economic Corridor built at Rs 3750 crore, ONGC’s U-field Onshore Deepwater block project in Andhra Pradesh developed at a cost of over Rs 2,900 crore, the 745 km long -long Srikakulam Angul natural gas pipeline project of GAIL to be built for more than Rs 2,650 crore and modernization and upgrade of Visakhapatnam fishing port.

While several of these projects have been in the pipeline for some time, political commentators say Prime Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy plans to launch them by Prime Minister Modi to keep relations between the center and the state cordial.

“Jagan Mohan Reddy is an invisible friend of Prime Minister Modi. Jagan is feeling the heat of not being able to fulfill any of the split-related promises he has made. Jagan had promised in 2019 that whatever government comes to power in the Center, the state would force them to deliver on the split-related promises, including special category status, economic zone and development package for two backward regions. So by bringing Prime Minister Modi to Andhra Pradesh for these projects, Jagan feels he can get a breather,” explains Vishakapatnam-based political commentator Gali Nagaraja.

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