BJP top guns shy away from Telangana poll battle fearing rout

Party unable to convince seniors to enter the fray

November 04, 2023 08:06 pm | Updated November 05, 2023 08:42 am IST - HYDERABAD

Name of State BJP chief and Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy were not found in the list of candidates. File.

Name of State BJP chief and Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy were not found in the list of candidates. File.

Reluctance of several top leaders of the State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to enter the fray in Telangana has left the Central leaders in a dilemma.

A number of factors are being cited for the “strategic retreat” of these leaders, many of them holding positions in the All India BJP and State units. The BJP Central Election Committee had earlier decided that all the seniors, whether MPs or legislators, will have to mandatorily contest the Assembly elections.

But, the directive seems to have been ignored by them for a variety of reasons. “Some of them are scared to face the elections as they are worried about the winning prospects,” is what a top leader of the State unit revealed.

The party has so far announced candidates for over 100 constituencies of which three Lok Sabha members — Bandi Sanjay Kumar (Karimnagar Assembly), Dharmapuri Arvind (Kortula) and Soyam Bapu Rao (Boath ST) — besides MLAs Eatala Rajender (Huzurabad and Gajwel), Raghunandan Rao (Dubbak) and T. Raja Singh (Goshamahal) have been fielded.

Names of State BJP chief and Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy, Rajya Sabha member and OBC unit chief K. Laxman, BJP national vice-president D.K. Aruna, party’s MP in-charge Muralidhar Rao, senior leaders N. Ramachander Rao, Konda Vishweswar Reddy, Vijayashanti and A.P. Jithender Reddy were not found in the list.

Reasons

The drastic drop in the fortunes of the party in the run-up to the polls, inability of party leaders to clear the air on the allegation of BJP-BRS nexus, infighting among old timers, newcomers and defectors from other parties and lack of clarity on funding were said to be some of the reasons for seniors’ reluctance.

“A huge amount of money is needed for any election and the party so far, has not given any indication of the quantum of funding they are going to get. This has led to a situation where some leaders are in two minds,” said a key functionary in BJP.

If party leaders are to be believed, Ms. Aruna, who was an automatic choice from Gadwal constituency in Jogulamba Gadwal district, decided to keep away from elections. A three-time MLA from Gadwal and hailing from a powerful political family, her reluctance is intriguing to even party leaders. They maintain that her brother is a ruling BRS MLA while a few other relatives have been given tickets by the Congress in old Mahabubnagar district.

Informed sources said former BJP national general secretary Polasani Muralidhar Rao was asked to contest from Malkajgiri Assembly constituency. He too, declined the offer reportedly telling the Central leadership that he would prefer entering the fray from Malkajgiri Lok Sabha seat.

Former MLC and senior BJP leader N. Ramachander Rao is understood to have politely said ‘no’ to the contest from Malkajgiri constituency. Sources said that Mr. Rao apparently reasoned that it would be a futile exercise to take on two formidable candidates of BRS and Congress in Malkajgiri, who will not hesitate to spend a lot of money.

When contacted, he said that he had already contested the Assembly elections twice and would like to give another candidate a chance. “I will work for the party to improve its chances,” he said.

Mr. Kishan Reddy too, will not be contesting the elections on the ground that he has to spearhead the party’s campaign across the State. However, party sources said that being a leader from the OBC community, his presence in the electoral battle would send a wrong signal, as the party had already decided to make a BC leader as the Chief Minister if BJP comes to power. A Parliamentarian is said to have expressed his inability citing a long tenure.

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