The GBR Cultural Centre at Kompally in the outskirts of Hyderabad turned pink on Friday as several thousand supporters of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) descended on the venue.
Even as one walked through the venue, it was evident that special arrangements had been made from providing buttermilk and water to the TRS cadre, who roamed in the hot sun, to special enclosures for MPs, MLAs, MLCs and other leaders holding positions of power.
However, one separate enclosure marked 'Place of Prayer' was hard to miss.
Special arrangements were made for Muslim delegates of the TRS to offer prayers as the plenary was being held on a Friday.
As a break was announced, several Muslims made their way to the enclosure, which had a massive tent set up.
The tent provided shade, along with two coolers to provide respite from the sweltering heat. Several carpets were rolled out for the convenience of the delegates.
Footwear was lined up outside the tent as a prayer rang out in the air, through loudspeakers.
As everyone fell to the floor to offer namaz, a TRS member manning the entrance beamed at this reporter and said, "Our party chief K Chandrasekhar Rao truly believes in Hindu-Muslim unity unlike some other parties presently in the central government” – a dig at the BJP.
"We're grateful to KCR saab for this arrangement. It was very thoughtful of the party leadership to accommodate us in this way. It shows us how the TRS will always fight for communal harmony," said Ibrahim, a party delegate, after finishing his prayers.
"KCR has always said that Telangana has been the land of ‘Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb’ (unity of Muslims and Hindus) and this is just one move to prove that he walks the talk," another man added, as he walked out of the tent.
Maintaining a secular image?
While the move to accommodate the Muslim men is heartening, it also furthers KCR's 'secular' image.
This was evident as there were massive banners of KCR wearing a skull cap and striking the traditional 'aadab' pose.
Muslims constitute a significant chunk of the TRS’ voter base, as a majority of them had even participated in the Telangana movement for separate statehood.
KCR is also known to be close to All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, which ensures that TRS enjoys a certain amount of popularity in the heart of Hyderabad; the old city area.
The 17th plenary of the TRS being held on Friday could also be the last massive meeting of the party before the state heads to the polls in 2019 and appealing to the Muslim vote bank would play a key role in bringing out voters.
Additionally, with KCR looking to play a big role in national politics, calling for the formation of a non-Congress and non-BJP Federal Front, the move also reinstates his image as a secular leader with religious tolerance.
“The plenary will be an extensive party meeting to discuss our policies and future course of action and is important considering that it comes ahead of 2019 general elections. Besides revealing the party’s national agenda, the Chief Minister will also disclose the party’s role in the development of Telangana State which has turned out to be a role model for many other States in the country and even the Central government,” Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao told reporters earlier this week.