GHMC Elections: How BJP Is Stealing KCR's Thunder
File photo of KCR

GHMC Elections: How BJP Is Stealing KCR's Thunder

The saffron party has managed to unleash a wave of communal polarisation in Telangana

Chief Minister KCR might not have thought that killing the rival Congress to transform the new-born Telangana to a single party territory in India would pave the path for the arrival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He employed every trick in the book to destroy all other parties in the state.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has been driven away from the state as an Andhra party which, he said, had no business in Telangana.

The YSR Congress, smelt the coffee well in advance, made a truce and beat a graceful retreat to Andhra.

Movie star Pawan Kalyan, the leader of Janasena, was never allowed to operate on the soil of Telangana.

The Congress was the sole political party in the opposition.

KCR’s game plan was to move north, after anointing his son KT Ramarao as the chief minister.

He would devote full time to national politics and re-launch his pet project, the Federal Front. At least, that was the plan.

An unexpected turn of events has taken place in Telangana. The state, which witnessed India’s fiercest Left movement, appears to be taking a “right” turn with equal vigour. The mighty KCR has realised that he cannot dismiss the power of communal forces anymore.

This was evident when he addressed a public meeting on Saturday at LB Stadium, when he urged people not to fall prey to communal polarisation.

“The state would plunge into darkness, real estate will collapse, law and order will deteriorate if TRS were to lose the election,” he warned.

The chief minister cautioned about the return of the dark ages of curfews. He said the progress made in the past six years would be undone.

It is perhaps KCR’s clearest signal that he is not invincible.

Change In BJP Strategy

The BJP recently appointed a mofussil man as the president of the state unit. Sanjay Kumar Bandi, MP from Karimnagar has been asked to take Hyderabad.

His leadership has changed the direction and dimension of BJP’s assault on TRS. Earlier, the post had been the prerogative of Hyderabad leaders. These leaders, steeped in local interests, had never adopted a communal approach to politics. They maintained an honourable distance from disruptive strategies. This is the reason why Bandaru Dattatreya, now governor, Himachal Pradesh, is much loved. Dr K Laxman is a well-respected leader. Even G Kishan Reddy, now Minister of State for the Home Ministry is considered a reasonable person.

The arrival of Bandi, who is not from Hyderabad, has made all the difference. He teamed up with other others like Nizamabad MP D Aravind from the hinterland to take over the state unit of the party. His team and strategy emerged victorious in the Dubbak byelection which has enthused supporters.

Bandi, though a novice to electoral politics, sensed that local civic issues lack the firepower to drag the entire society into an animated political debate.

So he cleverly turned towards the national, non-local, and non-material issues to make them a talking point. He converted the campaign for GHMC local elections into a Hindu-Muslim debate.

He also made the Old City the focal point and without saying it in so many words, equated Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) with Pakistan.

Bandi talked of surgical strikes in the Old City to root out Rohingyas and Bangladeshis. This electrified BJP supporters. TRS could not resist from falling into the trap. The TRS' entire campaign revolved around dismissing BJP claims and its communal agenda.

Bandi’s strategy helped BJP catapult to centrestage in state politics. The BJP president, with his whirlwind campaign, coupled with the circulation of his speeches in social media, has definitely won a psychological war against TRS.

Now, people are convinced that the GHMC election is a fight between the TRS and the BJP. In the melee, Congress has been relegated to the background.

The Youth & The BJP

According to a Hindu activist, the factor that is helping BJP amplify its campaign in Telangana is the changing nature of Hyderabad’s demography due to the huge influx of North Indian migrants. In his view, these migrants, mostly rich techies and businessmen are an invisible army of the BJP.

J Chandra Sekhar, a software engineer and an active member of the ProNamo group admitted to the fact that the North Indian migrants are playing a key role in popularising the BJP.

“Many migrant techies, as they are working from home, are finding time during the day to campaign in their gated communities for BJP. These educated migrant techies find Telangana politics too casteist. BJP’s politics of dharma and patriotism are more acceptable for them. So they are becoming ardent supporters of saffron politics in Hyderabad,” Sekhar told The Lede.

“In the absence of any emotive political movements post-Telangana, the youth are craving a non-material emotional social sphere, and the BJP with its ultranationalism is providing the right forum. These sections, both employed and unemployed (employed with extra time and money, and unemployed with disillusion) are getting attracted to BJP’s non-material politics,” said Tankasala Ashok, a political analyst.

It does not really matter how many seats the BJP will win in the GHMC elections to be held on December 01. The party has won a psychological war and the benefits will be seen in future.

Kovvuri Ganapathy Reddy, a Sweden based Telugu journalist and a keen observer of Telugu politics, opined that the day is not far away when KCR would have to ally with the same Congress which he intended to kill, to ward off the danger from communal politics of BJP.

“I foresee such an alliance among non-BJP parties in Telangana in the near future to stop the BJP surge in the state,” Ganapathy said.

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