After BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur the party is looking to put up a fight in Telangana and upset KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

A collage of Bandi Sanjay, Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah
news Politics Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 16:45

The BJP’s performance in the recently concluded Assembly elections has given the party a shot in the arm to work harder in states that are going to elections in the next two years. That BJP is a party that works continuously for the next election is no secret. The Assembly election in Telangana is scheduled for 2023; but the possibility of CM KCR springing a surprise early election, like he did in 2018, is keeping the BJP on its toes. BJP hopes to dethrone KCR and not allow him to score a hat-trick in the state. After BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, many feel that the party will leave no stone unturned to ensure an impressive performance in Telangana.    

BJP eyes SC, ST reserved constituencies

The party is taking serious efforts to concentrate on the SC, ST reserved constituencies in the state. Telangana has 19 reserved constituencies for SC and 12 constituencies reserved for ST communities. The BJP has formed special teams called ‘Mission 19’ and ‘Mission 12’ to prepare ground to take the party’s initiatives to the reserved constituencies.

BJP’s mission is no easy task, because in the 2018 Assembly elections, the ruling-TRS made a clean sweep of the reserved Assembly constituencies except in Khammam, and the BJP did not win a single reserved constituency. While the ruling-TRS hopes to roll out schemes like podu land pattas for distribution to STs and Dalit Bandhu for SCs, the BJP is also gearing up in its own way to woo the voters in these constituencies. Former MP, AP Jithender Reddy, has been made the chairman for Mission 19 and former MP Garikapati Mohan Rao, is one of the coordination members of the ST Morcha Mission 12.

Jithender Reddy was also incharge of the Dubbaka and Huzurabad bye-elections which the party managed to win despite the heated battle between the TRS and the BJP. In the GHMC elections, Jithender Reddy was incharge of Musheerabad which has six constituencies. The BJP ended up winning five out of six wards in Musheerabad. Jithender Reddy believes he has been bestowed the responsibility of Mission 19 to ensure the party emerges victorious. 

Speaking to TNM, AP Jithender Reddy said, “There has always been a history that whichever party wins the SC seats ends up winning the election. This has been true for united Andhra Pradesh and even after separation of the state. In 2009, out of the 19 SC seats in the Telangana region of united Andhra Pradesh, 10 seats were won by YS Rajasekhar Reddy and he won the election. In 2014, out of the 19 seats, KCR won 13 seats and he won the election. Again in 2018, KCR won 16 seats and he won the election. The party is concentrating on the reserved constituencies and has made me the convenor of Mission 19.”

When asked about the party’s preparation in the 19 SC constituencies, he said that convenors, mandal incharges and booth committees are being formed and identified. “We will promise the people a double engine government. If the same government is in power in the state and at the Centre, then several more schemes can be implemented for the welfare of the people,” he said. 

“The aim is to reach out to every home. Door-to-door visits are already happening. By the time of election, our karyakartas would have visited each house nearly 10 times. The weapon we are going to use is personal relation with the voters. Imparting confidence to the people is our goal,” added Reddy.

Between all the leg-work, the BJP isn’t forgetting to concentrate on the tried-and-tested caste formula ahead of the election. In all the reserved constituencies, the BJP is banking on surveys to decide the candidates. The party hopes to decide the candidate based on the people’s feedback and preferences. “Caste-based surveys are being carried out to find out the present composition of people in every community and their preferences. Based on the preference, the candidate will be chosen from a particular community,” revealed Reddy.     

BJP hopes to win 70 seats out of 119

Mission 70 is the BJP’s mantra ahead of the 2023 Assembly election. While the number may seem too far-fetched and unrealistic to many, BJP that presently has only three seats in the 119-constituency strong Assembly is eyeing 70 seats in 2023. K Krishna Sagar Rao, chief spokesperson of the Telangana BJP, feels it is the regionalism triggered by CM KCR that kept BJP away. “The central party has never taken its focus off Telangana state. However, the local political scenarios and the regionalism being triggered by CM KCR, especially during elections, is what kept BJP struggling at the electoral level. This time the BJP has an edge and the regionalism sentiment being evoked by CM KCR might not work all the time.”

“BJP has a plan in place right from the booth level all the way to the state level to ensure we have the right people at every level. We are identifying three leaders for every constituency and ensuring that the best candidate is given the seat. Unlike last time, this time around, BJP plans to distribute the tickets weeks in advance so that there is adequate time to prepare,” added K Krishna Sagar Rao.

BJP feels distributing tickets in advance will provide a level playing field for the candidates who will be contesting against sitting MLAs from the ruling TRS party. In 2018, the TRS had declared the candidates well in advance while opposition parties that were caught off guard when the early election was announced had to declare the candidates in a hurry.

“Mission 70 is to come to power. We’re not leaving any stone unturned. Everything needed to come to power will be done. It is all about the resources, the right campaign and ensuring the right candidates are given tickets. These three aspects are being looked into this election,” added Krishna Sagar Rao.

‘BJP will put up an aggressive campaign’

According to BJP insiders, one of the party’s plans is to highlight the failures of KCR’s policies. BJP is also banking on the anti-incumbency in the state against the TRS. Speaking to TNM, NV Subhash, Telangana BJP’s spokesperson, said, “Lately, CM KCR has been blaming the BJP and hitting out at PM Modi. All this is to take away attention from the anti-incumbency against his government. The BJP will convey to the people the failures of this government. Our message to the people of the state would be to give a chance to the BJP. TRS, TDP and all kinds of alliances have been given a chance, the BJP too deserves a chance.”

On August 28, Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay, who is the MP from Karimnagar, began his Praja Sangrama Padayatra from the Bhagyalakshmi temple, abutting the historic Charminar in Hyderabad’s old city. The first phase of the padayatra which covered around 438 km lasted for 36 days. The padayatra concluded at Husnabad with a public meeting addressed by Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare Smriti Irani. The party plans to continue the padayatra in four phases until the Assembly elections in 2023. 

The second phase is all set to commence from April 14 — Ambedkar Jayanthi. In the first phase, the BJP chief addressed 35 public meetings and covered 19 Assembly and six Parliamentary constituencies in eight districts including Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Vikarabad, Sangareddy, Medak, Kamareddy, Sircilla and Siddipet. NV Subhash said, “The second leg will last for around 60 days and will cover 19 Assembly constituencies and three Parliament constituencies in Mahbubnagar and Nizamabad. Amit Shah will be here to flag off the second leg on April 14. JP Nadda will be a part of the padayatra in Jangaon.” Earlier Chief Minister KCR had called BJP a non-entity during a public meeting in Jangaon. In the same constituency the BJP is planning a massive public meeting.

BJP’s IT cell gearing up ahead of election

IT cells and social media wings form an integral part of every political party’s election campaign. In Telangana too, the BJP is the process of strengthening its IT cell. The IT cell has a planned structure in place from the state level to the booth level. Altogether around 4000 people are part of the BJP’s IT cell. The IT cell uses Whatsapp as the main mode of communication. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms are also used for campaigns.

Venkat Ramana, the incharge of the Telangana BJP IT cell, has been leading efforts to strengthen the party’s online presence for the last 6 years. Speaking to TNM, he said, “Our volunteer network is our biggest strength. They are people who align with our ideology and have a fire in their belly. They are actively involved in our online campaigns. The IT cell has Facebook pages for every district and also at the state level. Nearly 50 pages are actively participating and putting out updates and campaigns of the BJP unit.”

The BJP also has hundreds of unofficial pages which are run by volunteers who align with the party’s ideology. When asked how volunteers are identified and made a part of the party’s system, the incharge revealed, “A process of volunteer identification takes place. Profiles are looked into and we contact them and are eventually made a part of the organisation’s network. Their profiling is done and their strengths are identified.”

Before every election, a central team is deputed to the poll-bound state to mentor the local IT cell. BJP leaders have revealed to TNM that this time too, a team will be in Hyderabad soon. The central team guides the local team in deciding hashtags, promoting them and strengthening teams. The IT cell will eventually focus on constituencies where the BJP is likely to perform best. The party’s internal surveys will help decide which are these constituencies.

The party also has pro-BJP YouTube channels that help in highlighting the party’s efforts and initiatives. While the party says only around 10 pro-BJP YouTube channels are presently active, the unofficial number is much higher. “80% of YouTube channels have already been paid and bought by the TRS. They’re all busy promoting the TRS party’s initiatives. The BJP does not have a concept of spending on publicity and social media. We mainly work through volunteers,” said Venkat Ramana.    

While the TRS may dismiss BJP’s performance in the recently concluded elections as something that was expected and also predicted, the result is sure to make the ruling-TRS take the BJP more seriously. CM KCR had mentioned in one of his recent press meetings that BJP will win Uttar Pradesh albeit with a lesser majority. "The kind of shameless tactics they (BJP) use, they may win the polls again in UP but public support will definitely come down. They will grow more arrogant and commit more mistakes which will be good for the country as this will be the beginning of their defeat in 2024," KCR had said.

While CM KCR may dismiss the BJP in the state and hope for their downfall in the 2024 general elections, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay said he’s confident of winning 70 seats in the 119-member Telangana Assembly. The party which had won four Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections has been upbeat ever since it won in two bye-elections in Huzurabad and Dubbaka. The party also put up an impressive show in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections. The saffron party bagged 48 seats in the 150-member body- a big improvement from its earlier tally of just four. BJP has been strategically projecting itself as the only worthy alternative to the TRS in the state.

In the 2018 elections, KCR’s TRS party retained power by winning 88 seats out of the 119 seats. The Congress stood second with 19 seats while the AIMIM bagged seven seats. BJP managed to win just one seat- Goshamahal constituency where T Raja Singh was re-elected. The party’s victory in the two bye-elections later helped take its tally to three. It is also important to note that several BJP candidates did not even get back their deposits after they lost. The party had managed to finish second in just nine seats.

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