BJP Peninsular Ground | Party’s focus on OBCs, KCR’s broken promises adding up to Telangana?

From just seven states in 2014 to 17 states in 2022, the BJP’s footprint has grown beyond traditional strongholds to conquer new forts like the Northeast. But Vindhyas’ wall has been hard to break so far. In this special series on the BJP’s Peninsular Pitch, News18 looks at the saffron party’s renewed push for electoral success in southern India.

In Part 4 of the series, we follow the BJP’s growing inroads into Telangana, where it has yet to give Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao too many nightmares, but has certainly forced him to sit down and fight. take note.

When the Bharatiya Janata Party won four parliamentary constituencies from Telangana in 2019, it was seen as a term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Few saw it as signs of the party’s growing influence in the state.

However, Dubbaka’s victory and later Huzurabad Assembly proxy polls upended the political equations of the state, as well as the way the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) viewed the BJP.

As the saffron party grows more aggressive every day, stepping up its attacks on the policies of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), analysts see it emerging as the alternative and main opposition to the ruling TRS, pushing Congress in third place.

“Dubbaka was a shock to the TRS as it was a constituency sandwiched between seats represented by KCR family members, just like the GHMC municipal elections where the BJP came second. They channeled money to extend the financial benefits of their programs in the constituency. Still, the BJP won. In Huzurabad, considered a TRS stronghold, Eatala Rajender won as the BJP candidate,” said Tarun Chugh, BJP Leader, Telangana.

The OBC pitch

Telangana is a largely backward caste state including OBCs. Party leaders say the state has nearly 50 percent of voters from the other backward-class community. However, the main politicians of the ruling class belong to the upper caste despite having no electoral base, a BJP leader has said.

Bandi and Dharmapuri being constantly attacked by the TRS, the feeling that the TRS is anti-OBC is gaining ground

The BJP nurtured an OBC leadership. Bandi Sanjay Kumar was appointed Chairman of Telangana Unity in 2020. He became the face of the party against the TRS government. Another key state leader is Arvind Dharmapuri, who belongs to the Munnuru Kapu community, an OBC caste. T Raja Singh, the BJP leader in the Telangana assembly, is also a prominent face, along with Shruthi Bangaru and G Vivek Venkatswamy.

“BJP leaders are mostly OBCs. With Bandi and Dharmapuri under constant attack from the TRS, the sentiment that the TRS is anti-OBC is gaining ground. With Bandi being taken into custody for protesting government policies and Dharmapuri prevented from entering his constituency, TRS is at risk,” a senior BJP official said.

The caste struggle

The KCR Chief Minister belongs to the Velama upper caste community which has a population of 1% to 2% in the state, BJP leaders say.

“Yet they control the power structure because the regional TRS party is run by a family. The second powerful community is the Reddy community, and so far it has been associated with Congress. Prior to 2014, whenever Congress was in power, the Reddys were the most powerful. These two communities are the ‘Thakurs’ of Telangana,” explained Dharmapuri, MP for Nizamabad.

“As Congress has the Reddys, the Velama community has moved on to the TRS, which is more powerful in the state. Velamas are Kammas in Andhra. So the current TRS is a combination of the TDP and Congress. Whoever supported the establishment of Telangana joined TRS after 2014.”

Assembly polls in 2014 launched a mixed record. The TRS hosted members of Congress. The Telugu Desam party was routed in Telangana. And even the BJP has ceased to regard Congress as a worthy adversary.

Even Muslims can leave if they get a better deal with the BJP. Progressive Muslims should turn to the BJP

Revanth Reddy, chairman of the Telangana Congress and the face of the party here, is trying to revive his original voting base that existed in each village.

“However, the TRS over the past eight years has built its base at every village panchayat level and so it will be difficult for the Congress to recover its vote bank,” Chugh added.

When it comes to Muslims, many BJP members believe that the majority of the community votes for whoever can defeat the saffron party. However, BJP MP Dharmapuri is optimistic. “Even Muslims can leave if they get a better deal with the BJP,” he said. “Progressive Muslims should turn to the BJP.”

Praja Sangrama Yatra to mobilize the framework

BJP Telangana Chairman Bandi Sanjay Kumar is taking the second leg of his padyatra against the TRS administration in the state. He had been arrested while protesting earlier this year, prompting party leader JP Nadda to lead a protest against the decision.

Many party leaders believe that this mobilization of cadres that has been dormant for years will bring benefits to both the Lok Sabha elections and the assembly.

Such is the confidence that top leaders believe that if there is one southern state other than Karnataka that the Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to win soon, it is Telangana.

The BJP demanded the withdrawal of the government order on employee transfer policy, calling it unbalanced. Government employees live in large numbers in the state and are also essential voters.

Furthermore, the BJP’s ideological mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been active in the state for years and has actively worked at the grassroots level. Chandupatla Janga Reddy, one of the party’s first two MPs to enter the Lok Sabha, winning the elections in 1984, and recently deceased, had been associated with the RSS since the 1950s.

Arithmetic

Senior party leaders believe the BJP is seeking at least 45 assembly seats out of 119 in the elections to be held in 2023.

“We have already touched 28 to 30 assembly constituencies if we consider those of the four parliamentary seats won by the BJP. Count in Dubbaka and Huzurabad. Add to that the KCR family feud, with the CM embracing Muslims and the yatra undertaken by our party leader in the state. The party is targeting at least 45 seats so far,” a senior BJP official said.

Farmers

The Chief Minister brought the issue of paddy supply to the nation’s capital, while his son who is a government minister and incumbent chairman of the party, KT Rama Rao, sat on a dharna.

He (KCR) encouraged farmers to throw good quality paddy

The BJP launched a counterattack against the CM for “misleading” farmers, which led to the TRS government announcing state purchases.

“He encouraged farmers to throw good quality paddy. He told them that he was the only CM in the country who takes care of the supply. He never took the name of FCI or the Modi government. What is the status of purchases? During the Dubbaka elections, 2020, he asked farmers about the quality of paddy which attracts more diseases, low yield and high labor cost. The CM promised more money in exchange for the harvest and did not keep their promise. Many had sold the crop privately. Farmers face a dilemma,” Dharmapuri said.

Tracking TRS Broken Promises

The BJP believes that all the promises on which Telangana was born – jobs, water, money and resources – are still unfulfilled. While Hyderabad deals with revenue, other promises are yet to be fulfilled.

Counting the Ayushmaan Bharat program, Prime Minister Awas Yojana, Covid vaccination, etc., as well as the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi among its bright spots, the saffron party hopes to make deep inroads in this southern state.

The party tells people what they didn’t get because of TRS policies – the benefits of central programs.

Nizamabad MP Dharmapuri claimed KCR’s ambitious Dalit Bandhu Scheme was also a non-runner.

“Ayushman Bharat, Fasal Bima Yojana and other schemes, where the state is in partnership, it has not paid the premium and hence these are not implemented there. Take education: whether school or university education, everything has been ignored. KCR has redefined Gurukul for its political purpose. Health facilities are in ruins. There are more than 70% vacancies in hospital staff,” Dharmapuri added.

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