Lok Sabha Elections: Will Regional Parties Hold The Key To Victory In Telangana & Andhra Pradesh?

The southern states send about 130 MPs to the Lok Sabha, and the BJP managed to win only 29 of them in the last general elections – 25 in Karnataka and four in Telangana.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi with TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and other leaders Photo: PTI

A high-pitched battle awaits as we inch closer to the 2024 Lok Sabha election scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. The last five years, BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's second term, saw a series of civil protests, political cross-firings and constitutional debates. At Outlook, we are closely tracking the developments and bringing to you exclusive stories, ground reports and in-depth analysis of the state-wise electoral scenario, focusing on regional parties, their journeys in recent years and how it will play out at a national level.

Today we are looking at Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the two southern states which formerly existed as one. Over the past decade, the political landscape in this region has been largely shaped by regional parties such as the YSRCP, TDP, and the BRS. With Congress emerging as the state power in Telangana after ten years of BRS rule, it remains to be seen if this trend will extend to the national level. The BJP-led NDA on the other hand, would be looking to make inroads with its newly-formed alliance with the YSRCP's primary opposition TDP, and the Jana Sena Party in Andhra Pradesh.


Days ahead of the announcement for Lok Sabha elections schedule, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on a whirlwind tour of South India, holding roadshows, rallies and public meetings where him and his leaders aggressively bid for the ‘Abki baar 400 paar’ campaign – i.e the party’s high target of winning more than 400 seats in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The southern states send about 130 MPs to the Lok Sabha, and the BJP managed to win only 29 of them in the last general elections – 25 in Karnataka and four in Telangana.

The party did not win a single seat from Andhra Pradesh where the political field is largely a bipolar fight between the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Chandrababu Naidu, while on the other hand in Telangana, the saffron party has been making gains at the cost of the regional party formed and led by former Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao for over a decade.


At a time when regional parties continue to dominate the discourse in this region, how will the fight for power play out in this Lok Sabha election?

What’s at stake in Telangana

The elections in Telangana will see a fight for power between the ruling Congress that is aiming to win a majority of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state especially after last year’s assembly election win; a bruised and battered Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) that is expected to put up a strong fight against two national parties; and the BJP which improved its vote share in the state assembly elections last year.

In the 2019 polls, BRS won nine of the 17 seats in the state and got a 41.71 per cent vote share, followed by the BJP which won four seats and 19.65 per cent vote share. The Congress and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) were restricted to three and one seats each respectively.

Congress is expected to make the most out of its favourable electoral outcomes from last year. In fact, much to the despair of BRS which was in power in Telangana for almost a decade, many of the candidates fielded by the grand old party for the upcoming elections are defectors from BRS – including Chevella MP Ranjith Reddy, Khairatabad MLA Danam Nagendar, and chairperson of the Vikarabad zilla parishad Sunitha Mahender Reddy, among others. “No one will be left in the BRS now, except KCR family members,” Chief Minister Revanth Reddy said at a press meet recently.


The stream of defections from BRS is not limited to Congress. The BJP too has announced several candidates who were earlier prominent faces in BRS – including Godam Nagesh, A Seetaram Naik, and BB Patil. The saffron party will also be keen on increasing its vote share especially after winning eight seats in the assembly elections (twice more than previous assembly elections). Many of these seats that the BJP won – Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Adilabad districts – have witnessed aggressive campaigns by the party.

The BJP which has struggled to make inroads in BRS’ stronghold, has often attempted to communalise electoral issues – going beyond clean water, sanitation, and other civic issues to proclaiming that Hyderabad would be renamed as ‘Bhagyanagar’.


The BRS party on the other hand is currently staring at a crisis amid multiple defections, arrest of KCR’s daughter K Kavitha in the Delhi excise policy case, conflicting ideologies – all of which have caused a dent to the party’s national ambitions. While it is part of neither of the big alliances of BJP-led NDA and opposition INDIA bloc, the regional party has decided to tie-up with an unlikely partner, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the upcoming elections.


What’s at stake in Andhra

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, YSRCP led by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy swept 22 of them in 2019, restricting its main opposition party Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Chandrababu Naidu to just three seats. While this election too is also expected to be a largely bipolar fight between these two parties, Reddy’s sister Sharmila’s entry into Andhra Congress might shake things up for other parties, analysts say.

This time the TDP has allied with the BJP-led NDA (even though the latter party’s leader Amit Shah had once said that they had ‘permanently shut the doors’ for TDP) and Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party. This alliance comes as an opportunity for both the BJP – which will be looking to make its entry into the Telugu state – and TDP which has been in alliance with the BJP whenever it has won elections in the state.


However, the alliance’s success will depend on how TDP performs in the state assembly elections, which are held simultaneously in the state with the general elections. In 2019, the YSRCP won the state election in a landslide, winning 151 of the 175 seats, with the incumbent TDP winning only 23. However this time, the former faces the twin challenge of anti-incumbency and the party’s failure to get a special category status for Andhra Pradesh.