A confrontation between the TRS government and the BJP in Telangana seems inevitable on January 9, 2022, the day stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui is scheduled to perform in the capital Hyderabad. The BJP has already stepped up its attack and mobilised supporters to prevent the event from happening, challenging TRS working president KT Rama Rao’s decision to welcome performers like Munawar and Kunal Kamra to the state to exercise their right to speech and expression.
BJP Telangana state president Bandi Sanjay has already asked the party’s youth wing to ensure that Munawar’s event does not go as planned, alleging that the comedian had made jokes on Hindu gods and hurt Hindu sentiments. Similarly, other BJP leaders have threatened to stop the event in case it is not cancelled as per their demand.
Munawar had been arrested in January based on the complaint of a BJP MLA’s son, who claimed that the jokes that “he was going to crack” are offensive. Just last month, the Mumbai-based comedian’s show scheduled to take place in Bengaluru was cancelled after the city police objected to it, citing law and order problems. In light of alleged threats from Hindu vigilante groups and the police communiqué, the management of Good Shepherd auditorium, where the show was supposed to take place, refused to rent out the venue.
While the date of the Hyderbad event has been announced, the venue details have not been disclosed yet, seemingly over threats of vandalism and violence. A top source from the TRS cabinet told TNM that there are no plans to cancel the show as of now, however, a review will be conducted soon in this regard.
By firmly challenging the TRS government, the BJP intends to keep the pressure on the TRS, and cultivate the image of the Opposition by sidelining the Congress – the principal Opposition party, according to political analysts. The TRS, too, which had earlier ignored the BJP, focussing solely on the Congress, has now realised the potential of the BJP, and been in regular confrontation with them for the past month over the prevailing paddy crisis in the state. The first sign of the TRS taking the BJP seriously was when the party lost the politically defining Huzurabad bye-election to former TRS member, Eatala Rajender, in November 2021, despite introducing the Dalita Bandhu scheme.
Soon after the loss, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao launched a protest against the BJP-led Union government, alleging that the farmers in the state were in distress because of the Union government not procuring paddy from them.
“The growth of the BJP, from winning 48 seats in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections to bagging two MLA seats in bye-elections, has evidently rattled the TRS, so now the party wants to challenge them. It is a power struggle,” noted political analyst T Lakshminarayana.
The state will be going for elections in 2023, and as part of its mobilisation and to enthuse party workers to work actively on the ground, the BJP is actively using the Hinduphobia narrative against the TRS.
BJP’s Bandi Sanjay alleged that the TRS cabinet is full of atheists, and so they do not object to the ridicule of Hindu gods or Hindu literature. He also said that Hindu society had to introspect on the TRS government’s actions in allowing Munawar Faruqui to perform in Hyderabad.
“The BJP wants to constantly send across the message that the Congress in Telangana is irrelevant, so they have been baiting the TRS with personal attacks against KCR’s family members and also to remain in the news. The TRS party’s earlier strategy was to ignore the BJP and make them seem irrelevant. The situation now, however, is not the same. The BJP has won two crucial bye-elections and proved that they cannot be overlooked. So the TRS is also confronting them daily,” said Lakshminarayana.
Last week, the BJP’s mouthpiece – Q News (run by Teenmaar Mallanna) – made distasteful comments against KTR’s son Himanshu, leading to violent retaliation by alleged TRS supporters who vandalised the Q News office.
“It is not about Munawar Faruqui anymore, it is a power struggle now,” Lakshminarayana added.
As part of the BJP’s relentless campaign against the TRS, the party on Monday, December 27 held the Nirudyoga Deeksha, a protest against unemployment in the state. In the meeting, BJP leaders vowed to bring down the TRS government in the next election.
Another political commentator, Palwai Raghavender, observed that the TRS confronting the BJP is its best political strategy. “There is anti-incumbency. Things have not been the same since 2014. Political dynamics have changed. Munawar Faruqui’s controversy is a small issue among the major issues for the TRS,” he said.
Raghavender added, “The paddy issue is one of the major issues that will define the elections. So, the TRS challenging the BJP and blaming them for everything wrong happening in the state is their best strategy.”
Watch: Munawar Faruqui barred in Bengaluru: Were the cops right or wrong?