The mood is upbeat in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Telangana unit as the party’s national executive meeting scheduled to be held in Hyderabad on July 2-3 is expected to provide a shot in the arm for the saffron camp ahead of next year’s Assembly elections in the state.
With the entire top leadership of BJP set to descend here for the mega event, the party is looking to use the opportunity to further bolster its prospects by organising a roadshow of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the conduct of the national executive itself holds significance for BJP’s Telangana unit, the state leadership is keen to capitalise on it to add enthusiasm among the party ranks.
BJP state leaders believe that the national executive will provide further impetus to their all out efforts to push for ‘Target 2023’. They are confident that Telangana will become the second gateway to South India for the party after Karnataka.
Though Assembly elections in the state are scheduled to be held towards the end of 2023, there are strong indications that Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo K. Chandrasekhar Rao may advance the polls by a few months.
However, the saffron party says it is ready for polls at any time. During his visit to Telangana last month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah dared KCR to advance the polls. He said KCR scraped through by going for early polls 2018 but this time his strategy would not work.
A series of visits by top leaders including Prime Minister Modi, Amit Shah and BJP president J. P. Nadda to Telangana during last few weeks, Prime Minister’s meeting with BJP corporators from Greater Hyderabad on Tuesday in Delhi all have lifted the spirits of BJP cadres.
The national executive and the likely roadshow by the Prime Minister are expected to further boost the morale of the party, which in recent months became aggressive in its attacks on TRS, especially targeting KCR for his ‘family rule, corruption and appeasement’.
With KCR stepping up its attacks on Prime Minister Modi and BJP and intensifying his efforts to play a key role in the national politics by working for an alternative, the BJP leadership appears to have taken the fight to KCR’s hometurf.
On one hand the national leaders of BJP are making a beeline to Hyderabad while on the other hand the state leadership is losing no opportunity to mount an attack on TRS government. The protest by BJP over the recent gang rape incident in Hyderabad allegedly involving sons of TRS and MIM leaders and its agitation on people’s problems show that the party is gearing up for the big fight.
“BJP considers Telangana as the second best bet after Karnataka to strengthen its position among the southern states. For the last three years, the saffron brigade has been running a sustained campaign against the government here, and this will only increase in the run-up to 2023 elections to the state Assembly,” says political analyst P. Raghavendra Reddy.
BJP leaders say the May 26 address by Prime Minister Modi to the party cadres during his visit to the city added to the enthusiasm among their ranks. Launching a bitter attack on KCR, he called for liberating Telangana from family rule and appeasement.
Modi had claimed that the wind of change is blowing in Telangana and that BJP will definitely come to power in the state.
The Prime Minister’s visit had come close on the heels of the visits by Nadda and Shah.
BJP president Nadda had addressed a public meeting at Mahabubnagar on May 5 as part of the second leg of state BHO chief’s Bandi Sanjay’s ‘Praja Sangram Yatra’.
Amit Shah had addressed a massive public meeting at Tukkuguda near Hyderabad on May 14 to mark the culmination of the yatra.
At their public meetings, both Nadda and Shah claimed that people of Telangana want double-engine growth and their mood is reflected in the BJP’s victory in the Dubbaka and Huzurabad Assembly by-elections in 2020 and 2021 respectively and the impressive performance of the party in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in 2020.
This was Amit Shah’s first visit to Telangana after BJP won the by-election in Huzurabad in November last year. It was the first since renewed his plans to play a key role in national politics by forging an alliance of anti-BJP parties.
The visit by top BJP leaders came amid the continuing attacks by KCR and his son KTR on BJP-led government at the Centre for discrimination against Telangana and its failure on various fronts.
BJP’s Telangana unit was already buoyed by the party’s victory in Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and other states. Bandi Sanjay is confident that BJP will win 80 seats in 119-member Assembly whenever elections are held.
BJP, which won four Lok Sabha seats in 2019 elections, is already upbeat over the victory in by-elections to two Assembly seats, the latest being the win in Huzurabad where former minister Eatala Rajender was elected on the saffron party ticket after he was dropped from state cabinet by KCR on allegations of land encroachment.
BJP’s earlier win was in Dubbak Assembly constituency in 2020. This was followed by the party’s impressive show in GHMC elections as it improved its tally in the 150-member body to 48 from just four earlier.
Ever since these victories, BJP has been projecting itself as the only viable alternative to TRS.
In the 2018 elections held a few months before they were originally scheduled, the TRS had retained power by winning 88 seats. Congress came second with 19 seats while the MIM bagged seven seats. The BJP could win just one seat. Congress was runner-up in the majority of the constituencies. BJP finished second in just nine seats and in most of the seats its candidates forfeited the deposit.
However, BJP sprang a surprise in Lok Sabha elections held a few months later. The party not only retained Secunderabad but also wrested three other seats from TRS — Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad.
“From appointing a vociferous Bandi Sanjay as State unit chief, to attracting dissidents from TRS and Congress into BJP, the party is doing everything possible to gain ground. After electoral successes in Dubbaka, Huzurabad, and better than expected results in GHMC polls, the party is riding an upward momentum,” pointed out Raghavendra Reddy.
He believes that BJP is using every small opportunity against the government to create an anti-TRS sentiment in the state. From Nadda to Amit Shah to Prime Minister Modi, every top leader of the party is making regular trips to Telangana, and are holding public meetings here, to stir the mood, he said.
“Holding BJP’s national executive here demonstrates how serious the party is about winning this state, and maybe they believe it is achievable,” added Reddy.