Prof K Nageshwar — Telugus Anger likely to Hit BJP in Karnataka


Telugu people have a sizable presence in neighbouring states for a host of reasons. The parts of Karnataka which were earlier part of Hyderabad state has sizable presence o f Telugu people. This region is still called Hyderabad-Karnataka . Hyderabad–Karnataka is the name given to north-east Karnataka . It is the Kannada-speaking part of the Hyderabad State, that was ruled by the Nizams of Hyderabad until 1948. After merging with the Indian union, the region was part of Hyderabad State until 1956. The Hyderabad Karnataka/Northeast Karnataka region comprises Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Gulbarga of Hyderabad state and, Bellary of Madras state that are in the present state of Karnataka.

As the erstwhile Andhra state was part of the composite state of Madras, a large number of telugu speaking people remained in Madras state now called Tamil Nadu . Similarly, there is a sizable population of telugu speaking people in neighbouring Odisha who migrated from North Coastal Andhra . Besides, thanks to the growth of information technology in Bangalore which is considered as the silicon valley of India , a large section of telugus live in the capital city of Karnataka .
There has been a migration of agricultural communities from telugu regions to several districts of Karnataka like Gangavathi .

However, telugus living in the neighbouring states never nursed linguistic regional political aspirations and became integral part of social and political life of those states.

But, the blatant denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh and the two telugu regional parties in power and even the opposition taking a strident anti BJP positions, telugus started getting alienated from the saffron party . This is likely to prove costlier for the Modi brigade in the ensuing Karnataka elections.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which recently withdrew from the BJP-led NDA alliance at the Centre urged Telugu voters in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections, to vote for anybody but not the BJP.

Addressing media in Bangalore , Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister KE Krishna Murthy, said that Telugu people in the southern states, especially in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should vote against the BJP because Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to accord Special Category Status (SCS) to the state.

Meanwhile, the TRS chief and Telangana chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao urged the telugu people in Karnataka to vote for Janata Dal (S). Though this call is interpreted as harming the chances of congress, it still cannot be considered as an endorsement of BJP. Thus, the appeal of both TDP and TRS to the telugu voters in Karnataka is certainly hostile to BJP .

The TDP has a significant support base among the Kammas, who are estimated to be a deciding factor in at least 12 Assembly constituencies in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region in the ensuing election. These Telugu-speaking voters, mostly farmers hailing from Andhra Pradesh, migrated to the neighbouring Karnataka over 50 years ago, setting up over 1,000 camps in Bellary, Koppal, Yadgir, Raichur, and Kalaburgi districts of the state.

The Akhil Karnataka Kammawari Sangham reportedly claimed that their population in Karnataka could be nearly about 35 lakh, with three to five lakhs concentrated in the Hyderabad-Karnataka border region. In Bellary Rural Assembly segment, 30,000 voters belong to this community. Their votes could also be decisive in the Assembly constituencies in Koppal, Gangavathi, Kampli, Shiraguppa, Manvi, Raichur, Sindhanoor, and Yadgir districts.

The opinion leaders among telugu community living in Karnataka have already started a social media campaign exposing the BJP for denying special status to Andhra Pradesh.

The supporters of TDP are loyal to the party even when they live in far away continents . It is obvious that those who live in the neighbouring states are emotionally connected with their home state of Andhra Pradesh.

According to media reports, BJP is planning to field the two brothers of Gali Janardhana Reddy , the Bellary mining baron , Karunakara and Somashekhara from Harapanahalli and Bellary City in a bid to compensate for the loss of telugu vote due to dissent over denial of special status. In 2008, the Reddy brothers, had helped the saffron party come to power for the first time in a southern state.

The BJP leadership is planning to field BJP leaders from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to campaign for the party in Karnataka. But, the absence of any influential telugu leader for the party after M Venkaiah Naidu became Vice President of India is a major handicap for the saffron party .

The MIM ‘s decision to not to contest Karnataka elections has further harmed the BJP’s chances. The MIM has a sizable influence among Muslim voters in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. The MIM stated that it has taken a decision to this effect to defeat BJP by avoiding a split in anti BJP vote.

( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )

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