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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » BJP Ready To Oust KCR In Telangana

BJP Ready To Oust KCR In Telangana

By Radhika Ramaseshan
February 13, 2023 18:24 IST
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'A pro-Modi wave and anti-incumbency will be incomplete without strong candidates.'

IMAGE: Prime Minister N D Modi at the Vijaya Sankalpa Sabha in Hyderabad. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party may have lost Munugode to the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS, the latest incarnation of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi) by a 10,309-vote margin, but the recent assembly by-poll in Telangana spotlighted two trends emerging before the 2023 state elections.


One, the Munugode outcome reinforced the BJP's position as the BRS' principal challenger.

Two, the BJP finally breached the uncharted territory of South Telangana, comprising the Nalgonda and Khammam districts.

The South was political home to the BRS, Congress, and Left parties.

Indeed, Munugode assessments suggested that BRS' victory was facilitated in a large part by the transfer of Left votes.

A state BJP strategist's explanation was, "We established our presence in the North by winning the Huzurabad and Dubbak by-elections. The central leadership virtually forced the Munugode election to test the waters in the South and prove that the BJP alone can challenge BRS."

The by-poll contained a backstory of political gerrymandering.

BJP candidate K Rajagopal Reddy was a Congress defector. His brother K Venkat Reddy is the Congress MP from Nalgonda's Bhuvanagiri.

Together, the Reddys wield enormous regional clout. They were among the first to revolt against Telangana Congress President A Revanth Reddy who joined the party in 2017 after spending several years in the Telugu Desam Party.

As many as 12 state Congress functionaries resigned in protest against Revanth for allegedly packing the organisation with his former TDP 'loyalists'.

Among the protesters were Uttam Kumar, a former state president, and ex-MP and Rahul Gandhi votary Madhu Yakshi Goud.

The uproar was raised shortly after Rahul's Bharat Jodo Yatra left Telangana.

Ironically, one of the yatra's objectives was to retool the state apparatuses.

Rajagopal Reddy provoked disciplinary action by describing the leadership of the Gandhis as 'ineffective' and went on to join the BJP.

His migration was not an isolated instance.

The BJP has put in place a four-member committee comprising national OBC Morcha head K Laxman, central minister G Kishan Reddy, Telangana party chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar and Huzurabad MLA Etela Rajender.

Rajender was possibly the most significant panellist because he joined the BJP from the BRS in 2021 after falling out with Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and was re-elected from his constituency.

Indeed, Rajender was likened to West Bengal strongman Suvendu Adhikari.

"First time in the BJP's history there is such a panel to identify potential candidates from the BRS and Congress because at the micro-level, strong candidates who can spend money will help the most. A pro-Narendra Modi wave and anti-incumbency will be incomplete without strong candidates," the BJP's Telangana strategist stressed.

Sanjay Kumar told Business Standard that the inductions will not be indiscriminate.

"We have three criteria. Belief in Modi's leadership, commitment to the BJP's ideology, and a clean, corruption-free record."

Among the reasons for the BJP's growing belief that it has come within striking distance of power was the emergence of a post-Telangana movement generation perceived as "less emotional" about the state's history and more drawn to Hindutva.

Dubbak MLA M Raghunandan Rao, a former BRS member who is now in the BJP, said, "Those in the 18-35 age group want a change from the BRS because the CM failed to fulfil his major promises. He never connects with people anymore. 'Jai Telangana' has been replaced with 'Jai Shri Ram'."

Asked why voters would choose the BJP over the Congress, Rao said, "Last time Congress had 18 MLAs, of whom two-thirds went to the BRS. So people say if we vote for Congress their MLAs will go to BRS. It's a wasted vote."

A Venkata Ramana, the BJP's Telangana spokesperson, attributed the rise Sanjay Kumar's appointment as the state president.

"Young voters are moving towards us because Bandi attacks the CM directly on people's issues. He forced the CM to move out of his Pragathi Bhavan office to Dharna Chowk to agitate against the central government," said Venkata Ramana.

"Here's a CM who never allows the Opposition to raise its voice but sits with his cabinet to protest against the Centre," Venkata Ramana added

Sanjay Kumar said the BJP's priority was doing what it is best at -- putting every tier of the organisation in place.

"There are 34,000 polling booths and 60 per cent of our work is over," he said. "We have classified the booths into A, B, and C. Our goal is to bring the B and C booths to A level."

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Radhika Ramaseshan
Source: source