In the months leading up to this year's national elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing up for Praja Chaitanya Sabha, a public meeting on the outskirts of Andhra's Guntur on February 10 that's pitting the rival BJP and TDP parties against each other.
Almost a year ago, the TDP pulled out of the NDA government after the alliance suffered a fallout over Special Category Status (SCS) and several other bifurcation promises for the state. The rift between both parties eventually turned into a rivalry, and Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu vowed to fight against BJP in 2019 elections, while playing significant role in uniting opposition parties.
While TDP is threatening to protest against Modi's meeting, BJP is alleging that the protests are a sign of desperation. Political observers believe that for BJP, the Guntur meeting is a way to position its base and show its presence in the state, ahead of both Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
Shyam Kishore, the BJP spokesperson, views Modi's 'Praja Chaitanya Sabha' as a platform to expose the "malign campaign of TDP." He said, "The BJP government has given lot of development projects and funds to the state of Andhra Pradesh. We will take them into the people, we will expose the TDP's smear campaign and vote bank politics."
When asked whether there would be any major announcements to the state, the BJP spokesperson said, "Our leader's (Modi) motto is continuous development and continuous assistance." Some observers speculate that the Guntur meeting will have a strong political influence for Modi on the state, as he is likely to drop hints about the party's future in Andhra as well as offer assurances for its commitment.
However, political analysts note that the future prospects of BJP in Andhra are not promising. Telakapalli Ravi, a senior political commentator, said, "Given the present situation, they have no scope. They are left with nothing but leveling allegations on TDP and Naidu."
"They should have given better and done better to the state besides showing the mistakes of Naidu," Ravi said. He further observed that merely blaming Naidu would not help, as people are aware that SCS was a decision that needed to come from the Union government.
BJP, however, hasn't gave up in the state. Ram Madhav, the party's National General Secretary, earlier said that they would play a key role in upcoming Andhra government.
On the other hand, TDP is not ready to stay quiet during the PM's visit to Guntur. Several reports suggest that the party will organise statewide protests, though TDP spokesperson Yamini Sadineni, noted that the protests would be "peaceful." Naidu, who is going to lead Dharma Porata Deeksha, a protest against the Centre in New Delhi, has already asked his party workers to observe the protests with black flags during Modi's visit.
The TDP spokesperson also noted that the party would be demanding the PM explain what he has done for the state before visiting.
When asked about the BJP's characterisation of TDP protests as a "smear campaign," Yamini said, "They're acting very smart, they have done injustice to the state by denying what it deserves and now they're undertaking the politics of misguiding".
Meanwhile, Ram Mohan Naidu, the MP from Srikakulam has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister posing several questions on the centre's stand towards various Andhra related issues. He has also said that the people of Andhra are known for that hospitality and will welcome the PM, but that attitude should not be mistaken for their weakness.