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Telangana Elections: BJP Trying to be Relevant Amid BRS-Congress Straight Fight

Important questions emerge amid calls for change in these elections.
Telangana elections

Telangana, where polling is underway, is the only state in the ongoing Assembly elections among the five states in which huge fluctuations are being seen in the election assessments. The fight here will mainly be between Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), formerly Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and Congress.

The AIMIM (All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) has a strong hold in seven to eight Assembly seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) key strategy is to fan anger against Chief Minister KCR and prepare a solid ground for the 2024 general elections.

In its campaign, the Congress has tried to establish the fact that KCR (BRS) has a secret deal with Narendra Modi-Amit Shah (BJP). There is an unspoken understanding among these parties, which also includes AIMIM, it is being said. Therefore, Congress's campaign is focused on the fact that only it can give Telangana what it needs, for which the state was carved out from Andhra Pradesh.

Based on the above campaign, and how many votes it can get, things will be clear only on December 3, but at present Congress is seen as getting the benefit of winning Karnataka in Telangana. 

It is worth noting that for the past 10 years, i.e., after the formation of the Telangana state, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has been on the seat of power. The party is now renamed as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and its leader KCR or Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao is the Chief Minister.

Although the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh was taken during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule and Telangana took shape on June 2, 2014, Congress did not get political benefit from it. In February 2014, the Bill to create a new state Telangana was passed in Parliament. But Congress suffered defeat in both the states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

For the first time since 2014, Congress now seems to be making a strong pitch to make a comeback in the main political battle in Telangana. Its big face is Revanth Reddy—who left Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and joined Congress. Besides, the Telangana chapter of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which was organised under the leadership of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, also created an atmosphere in favour of Congress in the state.

The victory of Congress in Karnataka also boosted the confidence of the party and the trust of the people. In the last Assembly, out of 119 seats, 88 were with TRS and 19 with Congress. It will be interesting to see how much this equation changes this time.

KCR, on the other side, is known for his grassroots approach and welfare schemes. He is an experienced political player. Many of his schemes, like Shaadi Mubarak, Kalyan Lakshmi, Dalit Bandhu, Rytu Bandhu (Kisan Yojana), Double Bed Room Scheme, Single Woman Pension, etc. have prepared a very solid ground in favour of his government. Based on this, KCR is confident that he will come back to power.

Also, till now KCR and his party have ridden on the spirit of the long mass movement to create Telangana. The party has a strong network of workers from top to bottom. It will also get the benefit of Telangana having its own, regional party. However, KCR's superstitions, not meeting the public and corruption seems to be big issues.

As far as the BJP is concerned, in Telangana, too, like the other four states (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram), elections were fought in the name of Prime Minister Modi. In the last Assembly elections, only one BJP MLA had won – T Raja Singh from Goshamahal. Later, two MLAs from BRS joined the BJP.

In a situation, where Prime Minister Modi has campaigned on a large scale in these Telangana elections raises some big questions. Also, the way PM Modi created a scene by embracing Madiga leader Manda Krishna Madiga to divide dalit votes, is being seen as a far-reaching aim. Like the rest of the country, here too, the dalit society is mainly divided into two major sub-castes – Mala and Madiga. This division is like Chamar and Valmiki. In this, Manda Krishna Madiga has been talking about separate reservations for the Madiga community for a long time. Modi wiped Manda Krishna's tears on the stage, saying that together we can move to fill the big gap within the dalit society.

However, the biggest card that the BJP has in Telangana is communalism. The provocative speeches of BJP leaders like T Raja Singh in Muslim-dominated areas are the USP (Unique Selling Point) of this party. The promises made by the Home Minister Amit Shah to voters can be seen in this sequence. The Home Minister said that if our government is formed, we will give everyone free darshan of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Second, we will give Telangana a Chief Minister from a backward caste. Whether these two promises will have an electoral impact in the Assembly or the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, remains to be seen.

Telangana has also been the land of Left and dalit movements. Revolutionary singer-culturalist, late Gadar, has served as the cultural ambassador of the Telangana movement. His daughter Vennila Gadar is contesting the Secunderabad Cantonment Assembly seat from the Congress ticket. Her election campaign was a talking point in the state and revolutionary songs of Gadar were played in the entire area.

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also has some base in Telangana. This time, the party is filled with new enthusiasm, and former IPS officer R.S. Praveen Kumar, is the BSP candidate from Sirpur Kagaznagar Assembly constituency. In a way, this is the third innings of the former IPS officer, who was the head of Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutional Societies and did remarkable work in the field of education of dalit-tribal children. His work area was Sirpur.

Kumar believes that BRS and BJP are similar kinds of enemies. BSP has also fielded the first transgender candidate from Warangal, Pushpita Laya. In this way, BSP has made inroads in other states, including Telangana-Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu.

Another candidate who raised the stakes of Dalits, especially women on social media, is Srishya, who is contesting from Kolapur Assembly constituency in Nagarkarnoor district of South Telangana. She shot to fame with the name Barrelakka or Buffalo Sister and became the biggest poster girl of unemployed youth in Telangana.

The 26-year-old dalit student created a stir on social media when she posted a video on Instagram about how youth are fed up with increasing unemployment, and as a result, she had decided to rear buffaloes. A large number of youths, students, and people from civil society participated in her campaign. 

There is a call for change in Telangana. So, it will be interesting to see how much this change gets translated into votes. At present, it is certain that after these elections there will be a change in the politics of Telangana. Some voices that are testifying such a change in the state are as follows:

“We are the ones who brought KCR to power, we are the ones who gave blood for Telangana, and now it is necessary to bring a change. Otherwise, the importance of voters will end. Why were jobs not given in the last 10 years, why was cooking gas not given at lower rates earlier, why only at the time of elections? Did everyone catch Modiji's disease of lying to the people? Right now, it's like a crazy game ... Bribery to attract voters is openly being practiced.`` 

--Bhagyalakshmi, (a daily wage labourer) from Secunderabad Assembly.

“I get angry, instead of talking about policies, parties promise to give so much money and provide benefits. I am studying, I want to get a good job, so that I can live with respect. The path of the Constitution and Baba Saheb is the path of dignity—I have hope in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Praveen Kumar.”
--Rammaya, (MBA, student, Meerpet). 

“MIM is also famous in our area, it will win, but I like Rahul Gandhi. He speaks sharply and speaks the truth for people of our age. He will rise. I have apprehension that KCR and Modi are in collusion – so change is necessary”. 

--Javed, Shopkeeper, Ladkika Pul, New Hyderabad. 

“This time there will be a hung Assembly. There is a strong wave of Congress in many areas, people want change, but KCR has his feet firmly on the ground – he knows how to get votes. BRS would not have thought that such a scene would emerge. Just one and a half months ago, the fight in Telangana was being seen between BRS and BJP only, and just after that Congress is an emerging big player in the elections due to its campaign and promises. This is good not only for Telangana but for the country also.” 

--Syed Ziauddin, (Engineer) from Redhills. 

(Translated from Hindi by Mahesh Kumar)

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