Hyderabad: Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader and state finance minister T. Harish Rao on Monday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre over its “false nationalism”, and said that the TRS “cares” for the people of Telangana.
Addressing a public meeting in the run up to the Huzarabad by-election, Harish Rao questioned the BJP over rising fuel prices, saying that the Centre has been increasing diesel and petrol prices at regular intervals. Taking a dig at the central government and its farm laws which are being opposed by farmers, the finance minister asked the people, ”What has the BJP done for the farmers?”.
Harish Rao expressed his concern regarding “lack of funds” from the Centre for Telangana, which he said hinders the state’s development. He asked Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman regarding Rs. 6000 crore that was “promised” to the state earlier. He alleged that it has not been transferred to the state yet.
The campaign for the Huzurabad by-poll is heating up with leaders like Harish Rao addressing public meetings regularly over the last few weeks. Similarly, former TRS leader and state health minister Eatala Rajender, who has now joined the BJP since resigning as an MLA earlier in June, has also been campaigning for the same.
On Monday, Harish also mentioned the progress made by the state under the ruling TRS government. He stated that he met chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), who has pledged Rs. 4,000 crore for development projects in Telangana. He added that KCR is also working to provide medicines to people at affordable prices.
The state finance minister also mentioned initiatives such as the Rythu Bandhu scheme which provides an investment support to farmers, under which they receive Rs. 10,000 per year. “What wrong has TRS done?” asked Harish Rao. He further alleged that the BJP and Congress for help each other. “TRS workers are working hard only for you,” he said, and appealed to the people at Huzurabad to vote for the TRS.
Earlier in June, Eatala Rajender finally announced his resignation from the TRS (of which he was a founding member) and the state Assembly. He eventually joined the BJP. Eatala had earlier been dropped by KCR from the state cabinet, after which an inquiry was set up against him over land grabbing allegations. But even much before that, he had questioned KCR’s leadership, indicating that all was not well in the TRS and its senior leaders.
More importantly, through Eatala, the BJP is also looking to make inroads into constituencies where it doesn’t even have pockets, in spite of claiming to the be main opposition in Telangana. In the 2018 Telangana Assembly polls, Rajender secured 104469 votes, with Congress candidate P. Kaushik Reddy getting 60604 votes. The BJP’s Raghu Puppala got a paltry 1670 votes. In the 2018 state elections, the BJP also won just one out of 119 seats.
As things stand now, Kaushik Reddy, who was in a good position to even win the Huzurabad seat, switched sides to the TRS few weeks ago. It was something that political pundits expected. Kaushik, who was perhaps expecting to be given a TRS ticket, is now being accomodated into the state Legislative Council. It is to be seen who the Congress puts up as a candidate now.
The TRS was on the backfoot last year after back-to-back losses to the BJP in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls and Dubbaka by-poll last year. However, the saffron party failed to perform when it mattered most: In the recently held Nagarjunasagar by-election. The saffron party’s candidate could muster just over 7,000 votes. TRS’s Nomula Bhagat won with over 80,0000 votes, while Congress candidate and veteran leader Jana Reddy secured over 70,000 votes.