New Delhi: Strengthening its presence in southern states is high on the BJP’s agenda which is focusing on wooing leaders from rival parties and infusing its organisation with new leadership to boost its presence there.The appointment of Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan as Telangana governor will pave the way for ushering in a new leadership in the Dravidian state, a party leader noted.The BJP has already undertaken a big expansion drive in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by bringing influential leaders, especially from the TDP, into its ranks. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Despite the surge the BJP has seen in popular support across the country during the recent Lok Sabha polls, its footprint has not expanded in a similar manner in southern states, barring Karnataka where it has long been a strong presence.The party failed to win a single seat in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, which together have 84 constituencies. Its tally fell to zero from two in Andhra but it improved its show in Telangana by winning four seats against the one it had in 2014. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KSince then the BJP has worked to induct a number of rival leaders in Telangana in order to emerge as a strong challenger to the ruling TRS in the state and has embarked on a similar exercise in Andhra Pradesh.A senior BJP leader told PTI that the decline of the Congress and the Left across the country has made circumstances ripe for the saffron party’s rise in a state like Kerala. The BJP believes that there is also a “political vacuum” in Tamil Nadu following the death of two feuding stalwarts, Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi, he said. “There is space. It is now up to us to present ourselves as a viable strong force. Local leadership will have a crucial role to play,” he said.Many in the party believe that the recent appointment of B L Santhosh as the national general secretary (organisation) underscores the leadership’s drive to strengthen its presence in these sates.As joint general secretary (organisation), Santhosh, who hails from Karnataka, was in charge of the party’s affairs in the south before he was elevated.