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South Focus: Congress ahead in most seats in Andhra Pradesh

  • Published at 01:13 pm May 23rd, 2019
Congress workers perform a special prayer for better election results at the Congress party headquarters in New Delhi, India, May 23, 2019 Reuters

The ruling BJP has limited presence in the South, except in Karnataka

Early trends of the Election Commission of India showed the Bharatiya Janata Party gaining a massive lead in Karnataka.

In Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front is leading in at least 18 of 20 Lok Sabha seats.

In Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is leading in at least 22 of the 38 Lok Sabha seats.

In the bye-elections for 22 Assembly seats in the state, early trends show the DMK and the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in a close fight.

While much of the country is focused on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return to power, the 2019 Lok Sabha races in the five southern states are a much more complex mix of established powers, new parties and young leaders hoping to make a mark.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is a significant player in only one of the states, Karnataka, while it remains a bit player in the other four, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala, where the results will have little to do with Modi – at least directly.

Each of the states presents a slightly different picture, with no broader narrative framing the contests across the south, except whether the BJP will be able to make an entry beyond Karnataka, particularly in Kerala – where it has fought hard to turn religion into a political issue, but remains tiny compared to the Left and the Congress – and Tamil Nadu, where numerous players are hoping to take advantage of a perceived vacuum in the first elections after the deaths of former Chief Ministers M Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa.

The Telugu states have typically been important to the formation of a coalition government at the Centre, but since the bifurcation into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the question has been about who will dominate politics in the newly-created states.