The BJP’s pitch in Telangana - Hindustan Times
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The BJP’s pitch in Telangana

ByHT Editorial
Nov 27, 2023 10:11 PM IST

The party wants a three-way contest in the state to prevent consolidation of anti-incumbency in favour of the Congress

The top guns of the BJP have launched a campaign blitzkrieg in Telangana ahead of polling on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have held a series of rallies in the state, which was once deemed as a potential second gateway for the party in South India, after Karnataka. The 2018 assembly poll and 2019 general election results saw the BJP emerging as the main Opposition to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (now Bharat Rashtra Samithi) in the state while relegating the once-powerful Congress to the third place. But the BJP seems to have floundered thereafter, giving rise to the impression that Telangana has become a two-party polity. The BJP’s hectic campaign now is geared to stay in the battle and also alter the perception that it is soft on the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). In their speeches, Modi and Shah have attacked both the BRS and the Congress and projected the BJP as a third alternative for Telangana voters.

The BJP’s hectic campaign now is geared to stay in the battle and also alter the perception that it is soft on the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). (ANI) PREMIUM
The BJP’s hectic campaign now is geared to stay in the battle and also alter the perception that it is soft on the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). (ANI)

The top guns of the BJP have launched a campaign blitzkrieg in Telangana ahead of polling on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have held a series of rallies in the state, which was once deemed as a potential second gateway for the party in South India, after Karnataka. The 2018 assembly poll and 2019 general election results saw the BJP emerging as the main Opposition to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (now Bharat Rashtra Samithi) in the state while relegating the once-powerful Congress to the third place. But the BJP seems to have floundered thereafter, giving rise to the impression that Telangana has become a two-party polity. The BJP’s hectic campaign now is geared to stay in the battle and also alter the perception that it is soft on the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). In their speeches, Modi and Shah have attacked both the BRS and the Congress and projected the BJP as a third alternative for Telangana voters.

This line of campaigns offers interesting possibilities. One, it may help the BJP recover lost ground and keep the party relevant in state politics. This is important because the BJP won four of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 by cornering a 19.65% vote share. The party would surely want to build on this tally. Second, politics in Telangana revolves around the BRS. The perception that the BJP is close to the BRS is likely to enable a consolidation of the anti-incumbency sentiment in favour of the Congress. In past elections, the BRS benefited from a multi-cornered contest — the anti-BRS vote was divided between the Telugu Desam and the Congress in 2014 and the BJP and the Congress in 2018. A two-way fight could benefit a resurgent Congress in Telangana now and in the general elections next year. Besides, the impression that the BRS and BJP are allies could help the Congress outreach to the 12% Muslim vote.

This is why while Modi sought to draw parallels between the BRS and Congress calling them “corrupt” and practitioners of dynastic politics, Amit Shah went a step further to allege that the Congress and the BRS had a secret deal to help K Chandrasekhar Rao stay in office. The thinking is that a strong anti-BRS pitch in the campaign could help the BJP guard its ground. The only state yet to vote in the latest round of five state elections may yet throw up some surprises.

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