The resounding show of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the just concluded Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GCMH) elections has come as a big morale booster for party leaders and cadre in Telangana while providing a possible blueprint for its future strategy to wrest power in the state.
The party is brimming with confidence that it can dislodge the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from power in 2023 assembly elections. “Our next goal is to conquer Telangana and we shall begin our efforts in the right earnest,” BJP Telangana unit president Bandi Sanjay Kumar said.
The BJP came second in the GHMC elections by winning 48 out of the 150 seats as against the 55 seats won by the TRS. However, in terms of vote share, BJP was only marginally behind the TRS– which polled 12.06 lakh or 35.81% votes– with 11.95 lakh votes or a vote share of 35.56%.
“The TRS government went for elections very early, not giving us much time to even select the right candidates. Otherwise, we would have got an absolute majority and might have even touched the 100-seat mark,” said Sanjay Bandi, president of the state unit of the party. He will be leaving for New Delhi to submit a report on the party’s performance in the GHMC polls to the high command.
Though, it is generally believed that the BJP effectively played its Hindutva card by alleging a secret understanding between the TRS and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, promising surgical strikes on the old city to drive away Rohingyas, promising to rename Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar etc., it also benefited from anti-incumbency against the TRS government in general and the sitting TRS corporators in particular.
“If you look at the wards won by the BJP, majority of them are in the areas that suffered heavily during the recent heavy rains and floods, like Saroornagar, Hayathnagar, Gaddiannaram, Nagole, Moosarambagh, Amberpet, Ramanthapur, Uppal, Kavadiguda, Gandhinagar and Mylardevpalli,” said a TRS leader, who preferred anonymity.
He admitted that the people, who faced severe hardship during the floods, were angry with the government and therefore, voted for the BJP.
“Even the distribution of Rs 10,000 in cash towards flood relief to each victim did not help us, as the local corporators took a cut from the money,” the TRS leader said.
It is also interesting to note that most of the areas conquered by the BJP were considered TRS bastions. “Areas like Ramnagar, Gandhinagar, Kachiguda, Nallakunta, Bagh Amberpet, Musheerabad are inhabited by hardcore Telanganites who had actively participated in the movement for separate Telangana. The BJP won all these seats now,” he said.
On the other hand, half of the wards won by the TRS are in areas like Serilingampally, Kukatpally, Qutbullahpur and Jubilee Hills, which are dominated by Andhra settlers.
“They should have voted for the BJP normally, but they voted for the TRS, due to discreet support from the YSR Congress party. And the BJP got just three seats in these areas,” the TRS leader added.
According to political analyst Suresh Dharur, the GHMC elections would definitely spread the message among the electorate in the rest of Telangana that the BJP is the only alternative to the TRS.
“There is a definite political vacuum in Telangana now, as the Congress has become ineffective and the TDP has become defunct. Added to this, the aggressive posture adopted by the BJP has started attracting the masses,” he said.