Telangana: Influx of ‘outsiders’ creating rifts, say BJP leaders

Hyderabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Telangana is sitting in the drivers seat, thanks to a spate of influential leaders from other parties joining its ranks. After ex-TRS minister Eatela Rajender, former Congress leader and MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy also joined its ranks earlier this week.

However, the influx of leaders from other parties also seems to be creating a concern among some leaders in the BJP. Opening its doors to anyone and everyone, is creating a rift, or “groupism”, said BJP leaders from Telangana. “I believe that the exodus from another party isn’t an historic event for the party’s rise,” said a party functionary, not wanting to be named.

The senior BJP leader said that letting leaders from other parties can also work the other way. “Regular sympathisers and ideological supporters can be confused. The BJP does not have any problem with people coming in, but it is about how they operate in a new system,” he opined, and added that there is already “some kind of groupism” in the Telangana unit.

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which can have different connotations.

“When people come from another party they bring in their culture and they are welcome. But they have to shed your old culture. It is like an organisation taking over an another,” the BJP leader added. Insiders said that there different camps between leaders like Eatala Rajender, and BJP Telangana president Bandi Sanjay.

Aside from Rajender and Rajagopal Reddy, ex-Congress minister DK Aruna is also a senior leader who joined the BJP earlier.

Will more TRS & Cong MLAs join BJP?

BJP leaders in Telangana have claimed that over 10 MLAs from both the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Congress will join. However, as things stand, nobody else from Congress other than Rajagopal Reddy is joining. His brother and Congress MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy may however follow suit.

A TRS leader told said that a few unhappy leaders who won’t get seats in the upcoming state polls will leave. “But that’s about it. The BJP is still struggling to find leaders, that is why they are looking to poach from wherever they can. Our surveys show that we are in a very strong place,” he added, not wanting to be named.

The BJP in Telangana even expects the Congress to implode soon, followed by more defections from MLAs and others. A senior Congress leader said that many are unhappy with party chief Revanth Reddy’s functioning. Another unhappy MLA from the grand old party is Sangareddy MLA Jagga Reddy.

TPCC chief Revanth was the working president of the TDP in Telangana until he resigned and switched parties. The TRS in Telangana is however sitting strong. Having won 88 seats in the 2018 state polls, it also drew 12 Congress and two TDP MLAs soon after.

A stronger BJP

Since the 2018 polls, in which the BJP got just one seat, the saffron party has grown stronger. The Nagarjunasagar by-poll last year was a good example to see how ʼt still lacks credible or strong faces in Telangana. Unlike the Dubbaka by-election in 2020, where the BJP had a strong candidate, it was fight between the Congress and TRS.

A former Congress minister, Jana Reddy secured 70,504 votes, while TRS’s Nomula Bhagat won by securing 89,804 votes. The BJP’s Dr. P. Ravi could however only muster 7646 votes. Even the Huzurabad by-poll held last year is seen as a personal win for ex-TRS minister Eatala Rajender. He was removed from the cabinet last year, amid allegations of land encroachment of 66 acres of assigned land by the Jamuna Hatcheries Private Limited.

The firm is owned by his family. He was thrown out from the post of health minister during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, the health portfolio was taken over by chief minister and TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhar Rao (now with Harish Rao). Both the Congress and BJP wooed him, and Eatala eventually chose the saffron party.

Eatala managed to redeem himself by winning the Huzurabad by-poll, which was a slap on the face for the TRS. The BJP, in spite of all of its weaknesses, has slowly managed to step into the Congress’s space in Telangana.

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