Telangana BJP faces uphill task in quest for power

Having supported the separation of Andhra Pradesh with a slogan of ‘one vote, two States’, the BJP had to keep mum during an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party for years. 

Updated - June 02, 2023 01:26 pm IST

Published - June 02, 2023 02:10 am IST - HYDERABAD

State BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar

State BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar | Photo Credit: Mohd Arif

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been on a roller-coaster ride ever since Telangana was formed. Having supported the separation of Andhra Pradesh with a slogan of ‘one vote, two States’, it had to keep mum during an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party for years.

Once the ‘separate State’ agitation picked up, it became part of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), supported the Telangana Bill in Parliament, and bagged five Assembly seats and one MP in the 2014 general elections when the Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS), now Bharat Rastra Samithi (BRS), was voted to power.

The BJP got 7.1% vote share in the Assembly polls winning in Musheerabad (K.Laxman), Uppal (N.V.S.S. Prabhakar), Khairatabad (Chintala Ramachandra Reddy), Goshamahal (T. Raja Singh) and Amberpet (G.Kishan Reddy) while Bandaru Dattatreya won the Secunderabad parliamentary constituency with 10.1% votes.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who maintained good relations with the Centre then, had managed to convince the Modi government to advance the State polls in 2018 and romped home with a massive majority even as the BJP won just one seat in Goshamahal (T. Raja Singh, now under suspension for making derogatory statements against a community), while the vote share remained the same at 7.1%.

Yet, within a few months, in the 2019 Parliament polls, the party shocked TRS by bagging four seats out of 17 with voting percentage up by 19.7 — Bandi Sanjay Kumar from Karimnagar, Aravind Dharmapuri from Nizamabad, G. Kishan Reddy from Secunderabad and Soyam Babu Rao from Adilabad

With a dozen Congress MLAs shifting to TRS (now BRS) and relations between the Chief Minister and Prime Minister souring, the BJP has made serious efforts to fill the Opposition vacuum, by winning bypolls in Dubbak, Huzurabad and many divisions in GHMC elections.

Though it had lost a few bypolls along the way in Huzurnagar and Nagarjunasagarconstituencies, the saffron party had begun to make aggressive posturing about being the alternative to KCR regime by making all-out efforts to lure leaders from other parties before the Karnataka elections results upset every calculation.

Suddenly, the Congress has emerged out of the doldrums and leaders ready to jump party have decided to wait while the tug of war between the loyalists versus newcomers and a debate on Hindutva versus local issues/leadership has emerged in the saffron party.

The recent State executive meet has dropped a hint on the political strategy towards the Legislative Assembly elections scheduled around the year-end and Lok Sabha polls next year. Current president and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar seems to have thwarted a determined bid by former Minister and Huzurabad MLA Eatala Rajender and his supporters (mostly newcomers) to take over, in some form or other, the party’s campaign going forward for now.

Mr. Sanjay Kumar has had a solid backing from the Central leadership, and party loyalists, despite them having their own share of differences with him, are not enthused about an ‘outsider’ being in charge. It is clear that the party will be depending a lot on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and charisma as is evident in the massive publicity campaign being planned to propagate his government’s welfare schemes and investments in national highways, railways, etc.

The party has also resolved to expose the KCR government’s failures in fulfilling poll promises of farmers loan waivers, three acres to Dalits, job recruitments, stipend for the unemployed and so on, in the coming days. The party is sure about candidates for about 50 of 119 seats. Yet, the absence of a sitting MP, MLA and a former star MP at the executive meet has set tongues wagging and portends an uphill task ahead for the BJP in its bid to come to power.

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