It is not just West Bengal that the BJP wants to add to its political map in the country — or Kerala where RSS volunteers are trying to introduce BJP and getting killed by the CPM cadre — Hyderabad, once belonging to the Nizam whose supporters called Razakars now practise politics in the name of All India Ittehad ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is an addition to the list of territories where the party ruling at the centre wishes to capture. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in Hyderabad today to campaign for next week’s municipal election, spoke at length about the floods that brought the city to a standstill last month. He asked voters for “one chance” to show how the BJP could change the city for the better, and take it from “dynasty to democracy” and from “corruption to transparency”.
Addressing a public rally on the final day of campaigning, Shah said further that the BJP wanted to “rid Hyderabad of the Nawab-Nizam culture”, would not tolerate “appeasement of any community” and would ensure “no one will be a second-class citizen”.
“If you give the BJP one chance, we will remove all illegal construction which blocks water exits and make sure the city never gets flooded again,” Shah said. He attacked Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR, for his government’s handling of the situation.
“We follow the news as well. We did not see the Chief Minister oversee rescue operations or meet with officials or do on-ground inspections with MLAs. Where was he when Hyderabad was drowning?” Shah asked.
“We will take Hyderabad and Telangana from dynasty to democracy, from corruption to transparency. No one will be a second-class citizen. There will be no appeasement of anyone,” he added, before training his guns on the ruling TRS’s “ilu, ilu” with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.
“We don’t mind if the TRS is friends with AIMIM but why are they not open about it? Why do they do ILU, ILU (an abbreviation for “I love you”) behind closed doors?” Shah asked.
The BJP has blamed an “unholy alliance” between the TRS and AIMIM, which beat either the party or an ally to five seats in the Bihar election, for Hyderabad’s lack of development, accusing them of banking on votes from “Rohingya and Pakistani infiltrators”.
When asked for his reaction to jibes by TRS leader KT Rama Rao and Owaisi over the demand to take action, Shah said, “But they never let me take action. They create a ruckus in Parliament when we want to take action.”
Hours before Shah’s roadshow the Chief Minister appealed to the people of Hyderabad to “save the city from divisive forces” – a reference to the BJP leaders’ vitriolic attacks about the city harbouring infiltrators from Pakistan and Myanmar.
Shah taunted the chief minister, claiming that he had helped the BJP by his misrule. “Even KCR has helped us with the kind of rule he has given,” he quipped.
“Those who called this gully (a narrow street) election forgot to clean the gully. That is why they are in trouble now,” he continued, referring to the BJP unleashing an army of A-listers to campaign for what is essentially a mayoral race. Shah said the BJP did not consider any election “small”.
Boosted by its victory in an Assembly bypoll for the Dubbaka seat earlier this month, the BJP has targeted this election as a chance to carve out a space for itself in the southern state. In 2016 the party claimed just four of 150 seats as Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS swept 99.
A strong showing in Hyderabad will help the party press its case in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where Assembly elections are due early next year.
Voting for the 150 wards will be held on 1 December, with results due 4 December.
Earlier this month, the BJP had won the Dubakka by-election when it decided it would finally make inroads in Telangana. Few outside the party know that it used to have a stronger base by way of organisational presence in undivided Andhra Pradesh when it formed its first government in Karnataka. The now-off-now-on relationship with the TDP, however, did not let the BJP pursue the Telugu-speaking state as it conventionally avoids eroding the base of an alliance partner. Telangana, however, is unlike the undivided Andhra Pradesh and the TDP is neither an ally now nor a formidable force in the new state.
The party last Sunday appointed national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, as the state’s election in-charge for the otherwise event-free Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election.
BJP president JP Nadda appointed Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar, Maharashtra MLA Ashish Shelar and the Gujarat secretary Pradipsinh Vaghela too as co-in-charges for the elections.
The GHMC has about 150 divisions and elections are to be held on 1 December. The state election commission notification regarding this was issued Tuesday.
“If the central leadership has roped in Yadav, you can analyse how serious they are about Telangana. The chief minister thought he would catch us off-guard by suddenly wanting to go for GHMC polls but we are prepared,” former MP and BJP leader Vivek Venkata Swamy told ThePrint. “We’ve already conducted a survey to identify the constituencies that need work, we’ve been at it for at least a month.”
The importance that the BJP is attaching to the Hyderabad victory can be seen from its activities since. The party’s IT team had organised a preparatory meeting for its ‘social media warriors’ Monday, while recently appointed state president Bandi Sanjay is also planning a padayatra in the constituencies that is likely to begin in a week.