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Southern states special point of attention for BJP

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
February 15, 2009 17:52 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to lay a special focus on the southern states in the coming elections, given the fact that it had 132, or one-third of the Lok Sabha seats.

For this purpose the party wants to use Karnataka as a springboard, as it was the first state in south India to have a BJP government.

Similarly the BJP is looking towards Andhra Pradesh as a fertile ground because in 1998 and 1999 polls it had won considerable number of Lok Sabha seats in the state, but fell down to zero in 2004.

Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, whom the party has appointed as the in-charge of the entire southern region, including the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Andaman and Lakshadweep, said that the region has a special significance in the party's election plans.

Apart from the national issues, the BJP wants to raise specific issues of the states like the statehoood for Telangana in Andhra Pradesh, and the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu.

He said though the BJP was mostly dismissed in Andhra Pradesh by the critics as weak, it is emerging asĀ  a force to reckon with of-late.

As part of the strategy to further strengthen the party, the BJP has organized two rallies of two top most leaders of the party. The Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has emerged as the symbol of hardcore Hindutva in the BJP, will address a rally in Andhra Pradesh's Karimnagar on February 21, where he will raise the issue of Telangana.

Presenting the BJP as a strong votary of a separate Telangana state and the only party capable of delivering on its promise, Modi will seek support from the people of Telangana.

A similar message will be delivered by BJP's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani when he would address a rally at Madanapalle in Chittoor district of Andhra Pardesh's Rayala Seema region. With this Advani would cover all the three regions of the state as he has already addressed rallies in Hyderabad and Vijaywada.

"The TDP led alliance does not have a conviction on the Telangana issue, and the Congress lacks commitment to create Telangana. BJP is the only party which will deliver Telangana. Let us see whom the people will believe", Advani told media persons in Hyderabad.

Advani also said that the BJP will start announcing its candidates from February 27 and the entire process will be completed by March 8. But he admitted that the economic slowdown had created a resource-crunch for the BJP, like all other parties.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad