Through Eatala, BJP hopes to make inroads into rural Telangana

Hyderabad: With former TRS leader Eatala Rajender all set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the saffron party is hoping that it will finally be able to make inroads into rural areas of Telangana by riding horseback on such leaders. Even in the recently held Nagarjuna by-election, the BJP was able to get only 7,000-odd votes.

Eatala Rajender, who was the state health minister just few weeks ago, met the BJP’s top leadership in Delhi some days ago, and all is set to officially join the party soon. A senior BJP leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that Eatala will mostly join the saffron party next week. “The party has okay-ed everything. Some others, including an ex-MLA, A Ravinder Reddy, are likely to join the our party,” he added.

“The high command at the centre has welcomed him to join and the state unit also has asked him to join. The ball is his court. There are many others, even from the Congress, who also want to join, but the thing is that they are all asking for big posts. But obviously that won’t work. Even with Rajender, we are not giving any assurances. The party will tell people what to do,” the BJP leader from Telangana told Siasat.com.

He added that with Eatala Rajender joining the BJP, the saffron party is also looking to gain inroads into rural constituencies like Huzurabad. In the 2018 Telangana Assembly election, Rajender secured 104469 votes, with the Congress candidate getting 60604 votes. The BJP’s Raghu Puppala got a paltry 1670 votes, which shows how much strength the party has in such pockets. In the 2018 state polls, the BJP won just one out of 119 seats.

Eatala was removed from the cabinet amid allegations of land encroachment of 66 acres of assigned land by the Jamuna Hatcheries Private Limited, which is owned by his family. He was thrown out from the post of health minister amid the peak of the ongoing second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, the health portfolio was taken over by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). 

After back-to-back good electoral performances in the greater Hyderabad Municipal Corportation (GHMC) polls and Dubbaka by-poll last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to perform when it mattered most in the recently concluded Nagarjunasagar by-election. The saffron party’s candidate could muster just over 7,000 votes, belying its own claim of replacing the Congress as the main opposition in Telangana.

Unlike the Dubbaka by-election last year, where the party had a strong candidate (Raghunandan Rao, who went on to win), the saffron party struggled to find a good candidate. It finally chose a member of the Scheduled Tribe (ST), Dr. P. Ravi, who could however only muster 7646 votes. While Jana Reddy secured 70,504 votes, TRS’s Nomula Bhagat won by securing 89,804 votes.

When asked what the his will gain other than some votes through Eatala, the BJP leader acknowledged that the former TRS minister will probably be unable to win his own seat without help. “He is more concerned about his properties, and he is expecting some help as BJP is in the centre,” he added, and requested anonymity.

“By accepting an invitation to join BJP, Etela Rajender indicated he is no KCR to start a party take on the mighty forces. In 2000-01, KCR took on all the then existing forces not just in Telangana, but from across Andhra Pradesh, and emerged victorious after a long arduous struggle for separate State. On the other hand, Etela, indicated his political journey would not be possible away from the shadow of KCR or TRS, unless he is supported by BJP.,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Raghavendra Reddy opined that all the talk by Eatala of starting anti-KCR group or a regional outfit from Telangana, amounted to nothing. “BJP will gain a leader who will bring it some votes. Eatala comes from a district where the saffron party’s president is from (Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who is also the Karmnagar Lok Sabha MP),” he told Siasat.com.

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