Hyderabad: By stating that the people of Telangana have confidence only in the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to boost the self-confidence of the party which has been working aggressively to capture power in the state, where Assembly elections are due later this year.
“In the South, we have always been strong in Karnataka and in Telangana people now have confidence only in one party, BJP, and in Andhra Pradesh also people are looking towards us,” Modi said on March 28 while inaugurating a residential complex of the party in New Delhi.
Modi asserted this at a time when the saffron party is on an offensive to take political mileage from the recent developments, mainly the questioning of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter K. Kavitha in the Delhi excise policy case and the exam paper leak scam that has rocked Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC).
Launching a bitter attack on the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) over Kavitha’s alleged involvement, the BJP state leadership is working aggressively to use this issue to its advantage.
Telanagana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar and other leaders are citing it to justify their attack on the Chief Minister’s family over corruption.
Alleged large-scale corruption in construction of irrigation projects besides family rule by KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, had been the major issues for BJP in its attack on the BRS.
Since BRS leaders had been challenging the opposition to show evidence of corruption, the questioning of Kavitha by the ED is being projected as a big achievement of the BJP .
Even before the BRS could recover from this shock, the TSPSC exam question paper leak has given the opposition BJP and Congress a major issue to attack the state’s ruling party in the run up to the forthcoming Assembly polls.
By staging protests over the paper leak and pointing fingers at key government figures, both the BJP and Congress appear to be vying with each other to draw political mileage from the issue.
Both the major opposition parties are going all out to politically cash in on the unease among government job aspirants caused by the cancellation of a few exams conducted recently by TSPSC due to the paper leak scam.
The protests by student and youth groups over the last two weeks has already put pressure on the BRS and the BJP and Congress have added to this by alleging involvement of top guns including BRS Minister K.T. Rama Rao.
Sensing the political dividend they can draw from the issue, BJP state chief Bandi Sanjay and Telangana Congress president A. Revanth Reddy alleged KTR’s involvement. They are demanding a probe by the sitting judge of the high court or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Though KTR has served legal notices to both and asked them to apologise or be ready to face defamation suit of Rs 100 crore, Revanth and Sanjay remained defiant.
“Defamation notice looks like an unending craving for more money. If KCR’s son’s reputation and image were worth Rs 100 crore, how much money should be paid to 30 lakh unemployed whose future is in jeopardy due to misrule of BRS government?” asked Bandi Sanjay.
Since the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Hyderabad Police investigating the case found involvement of several employees of TSPSC in leakage of question papers including the paper of Group-I Prelims, the BJP and Congress leaders alleged that the accused have links with those holding key positions in TSPSC and the government.
They have dubbed the SIT as an attempt by the BRS government to shield the big fish.
Going a step ahead, Revanth Reddy has even lodged a complaint with the ED and sought a probe into alleged money laundering in the paper leak scam. He alleged that there were huge cash transactions including through hawala route.
Political analysts believe BRS, which has been trying to highlight the Telangana model of development, has suddenly gone on the back foot.
Aiming for a hat-trick of victories to create a new record in south India, BRS is highlighting the state’s achievements under its nine-year-rule. From highest per capita income growth rate in the country and one of the highest GSDP growth rate to building world’s biggest lift irrigation project Kaleshwaram and implementing a plethora of welfare schemes for all sections of people, the ruling party is trying to tell electorate how this development model is attracting attention of states across the country.
KCR’s move to turn TRS into BRS is seen as a strategy to build a narrative around Telangana development for seeking another public mandate.
However, BRS leader Dasoju Sravan claims that TRS has been transformed into BRS only to fulfil the aspirations of people of all states in India and not for narrow political reasons.
“Whole country is looking towards KCR’s visionary leadership and people from other states are demanding their governments to introduce the schemes being implemented by the KCR government in their states,” he said.
The alleged discrimination by the BJP-led government at the Centre towards Telangana is also a big issue for the BRS.
BRS leaders miss no opportunity to target the Modi government for not fulfilling any of the commitments made to Telangana in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
For the BJP, KCR’s unfulfilled promises made in the 2018 elections will be a key issue. Slamming BRS for its alleged appeasement politics and its friendship with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the saffron party is also raking up controversial issues like Hyderabad liberation day and four per cent reservation for minorities to achieve polarization on communal lines.
From winning just one Assembly seat in 2018 to becoming principal contestant to the ruling BRS in 2023, the BJP has seen a dramatic rise in its political fortunes in Telangana.
After winning four Lok Sabha seats in 2019, the BJP continued its forward march and consolidated its position by winning two Assembly by-elections and by posting an impressive performance in Greater Hyderabad’s municipal elections.
In the 2018 Assembly elections held a few months before they were originally scheduled, TRS had retained power by winning 88 seats. BJP could win just one seat. It finished second in only nine constituencies 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.
Two wins in by-elections had also given a boost to BJP. However, BJP’s hopes to score a hat-trick of by-election victories in Munugode were dashed by BRS in November last year.
Following the by-poll victories, the saffron party started to see a realistic chance for itself in the coming election and it is for this reason that the party is pumping in all its energy here.
Hectic activity in the party camp during the last few months, a series of visits by Prime Minister Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president J.P. Nadda and several union ministers indicate the importance the party is giving to Telangana.
The BJP’s emergence has been at the cost of the Congress party. After a humiliating defeat in both 2014 and 2018 despite claiming credit for carving out Telangana, the Grand Old Party appears to be struggling to remain relevant in state politics.
Reeling under defections of several leaders and legislators in the last nine years and crushing defeats in almost all by-elections, the party looks to be in disarray. Infighting and lack of any charismatic figure have added to the woes of the Congress.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi brought some enthusiasm to lift the spirit of demoralised cadre and the state Congress chief Revanth Reddy is trying to keep the momentum, the party faces an acid test in this year’s Assembly polls.
The Congress has been trying to impress upon people that BRS and BJP are the same. Its leaders often say the two parties are friends in Delhi but engage in shadow boxing in the state to hoodwink people. It is trying to expose the failures of both Modi and KCR governments.