The BJP has said it will put up a tough fight in the Telangana Assembly elections, but it may not be easy to find suitable candidates for all the constituencies.
An election management committee comprising P K Krishnadas, B L Santosh and others is camping in the state to screen candidates. While in some constituencies the BJP has been able to identify candidates, in others there are no known faces, sources said.
“All the known leaders of the BJP in Telangana are from Hyderabad. In the districts, there are no known names or faces one can identify with the party. The BJP may have to depend on local leaders from other parties,” a BJP leader said.
In 2014 elections, all five Assembly seats the BJP won were in Hyderabad — that too within the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation limits. The lone parliamentary seat is Secunderabad. Twenty-eight of the 31 district presidents of the BJP are not very well recognised leaders. In some constituencies where the BJP does not have recognisable faces, the party is being approached by others for tickets. In Asifabad (ST) Assembly constituency, Marsakola Saraswati wants a BJP ticket to contest against her sister, Kova Laxmi of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Both are daughters of former tribal welfare minister and prominent Adivasi leader late K Bheemrao.
In 2014, Saraswati contested on a TDP ticket against her sister but lost. “She has approached us for a ticket and we are considering it,’’ a BJP leader said. In Adilabad, Mahbubnagar, Karimnagar, Nalgonda and Medak districts, those who have been denied tickets by the TRS or sidelined by the Congress or TDP are seeking BJP tickets.
BJP leaders expressed confidence that their screening committee would come up with the best candidates in a couple of weeks’ time. Speaking to The Indian Express, P K Krishnadas said the party has shortlisted at least five candidates for each seat.
“It is baseless to say we are short of candidates. We follow a process in selection of candidates in every state, and that process is going on in Telangana. We will come up with our candidate list shortly… Finding candidates won’t be a problem,” Krishnadas said. The committee is likely to present a proposed list of candidates to BJP president Amit Shah, who will be visiting Telangana on Saturday. Shah will address a public meeting at MVS College grounds in Mahbubnagar and officially kick off the election campaign that day. “We are expecting over 1 lakh people at the public meeting,” G Padmaja Reddy, BJP district president of Mahbubnagar, said.
The BJP will contest all 119 Assembly seats in Telangana. Secunderabad MP Bandaru Dattatreya may contest from a constituency in Hyderabad or Secunderabad, and MLC N Ramchander Rao may also contest from one of the urban constituencies.