During his visit to Hyderabad in July, BJP chief Amit Shah directed local party leaders to work towards getting a foothold for the party in Telangana so as to give a fight to the ruling TRS at the time of polls. The larger plan, sources said, was to foray into south India via Telangana.
But with TRS on one side and Opposition alliance Prajakutami on the other, the BJP was not able to make a strong presence felt in the state. Apart from pockets of Hyderabad and its suburbs, and Karimangar town, BJP has not gained ground in any new area, party sources said. Many say BJP is going slow to ensure that prospects of TRS, which it sees as a post-poll ally in 2019, are not harmed. BJP leaders deny this.
“I am confident we will do very well, especially in urban constituencies. People know we are the better alternative to TRS or Congress,” said BJP Telangana chief Dr K Laxman. In the absence of new support areas, BJP leaders are focusing on seats which the party lost by narrow margins in the 2014 Assembly polls. Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other leaders campaigned only in a few urban and semi-urban segments like Nizamabad, Tandur, Mudhole, Karimnagar, Narankhed, and five seats in Hyderabad that BJP won in 2014.
All the five seats the BJP won in 2014 were urban Assembly constituencies in Hyderabad — Musheerabad, Uppal, Khairtabad, Goshamahal and Amberpet.
BJP national secretary P Muralidhar Rao said the BJP is aiming to not only retain the five seats it won in 2014, but also to wrest those which it lost by slender margins. “Things have changed on the ground in the last four-and-a-half years. The TRS has failed to meet expectations of people. People don’t trust Congress. So they consider BJP as the best alternative,” he said.
After trying to connect with the people by listing “failures” of the K Chandrashekar Rao government, the BJP now appears to be trying to portray this election as BJP versus “anti-national” opposition parties. While Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath targeted AIMIM and its chief Asaduddin Owaisi, saying that he will have to flee Hyderabad if BJP comes to power, Shah stated at Narayankhed that TRS and Congress were “anti-nationals”.
“TRS has bowed down to MIM and is indulging in appeasement politics by wooing minorities. Congress is doing the same and is promising free power to masjids and churches. TRS has proposed 12 per cent reservation for Muslims. We are against reservation based on religion,’’ Shah said.