With the main opposition Congress rocked by the defection of 12 party MLAs and TDP pushed to the margins, the BJP is making aggressive efforts to emerge as the alternative to the ruling TRS in Telangana. BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who launched the party's membership drive in Telangana here Saturday, asked the party cadres to enroll 18 lakh additional members to the existing 18 lakh as the basis for strengthening the party in the state.
Though it could win only one of the total 119 seats in the Assembly elections held in December last year, the BJP is upbeat about its prospects in Telangana after bagging four of the 17 constituencies in recent Lok Sabha elections. In terms of vote share, the party secured about 20 percent votes in the LokSabha polls.
Shah, who held a meeting with key state leaders Saturday night after kicking off the membership campaign, is understood to have told them that 20 percent vote share meant the party is near power in the state. Citing the example of states like Tripura where BJP increased its strength manifold from a marginal vote share, he told the leaders that the party stood a bright chance of growing in Telangana, BJP sources said.
What created an encouraging atmosphere for BJP's growth is the problems that Congress is beset with, besides the decline of TDP in the state. Congress won 19 seats in the assembly polls and as many as 12 of them recently left the party and merged with the ruling TRS.
The issue of leadership at the national level, with Rahul Gandhi stepping down as party president, also had its impact on the party in the state. The TDP, which was once a formidable force in Telangana, finds itself on the margins now with a number of leaders switching over mainly to TRS and also Congress during the last several years.
TDP had won only two of the 119 seats in the assembly polls though it contested in alliance with the Congress and others. The party's massive defeat in neighboring Andhra Pradesh also had its impact on the party in Telangana.
The BJP seeks to occupy the space created byTDP's decline and the Congress suffering a setback. "Now, no one can stop BJP. Because people are looking towards BJP as an alternative. Only thing is, it should work to live up to the expectations of people as an opposition, for which we are ready," BJP MLC N Ramachander Rao told PTI.
The TDP and Congress are almost finished in Telangana, he claimed. Not only the weakening of Congress and the "political wilderness" of TDP cadres, the anti-incumbency against TRS would also help BJP, he said.
The Congress, however, dismissed the BJP's claims. "If you look at the numbers, BJP is a one MLA party. Congress, despite the defections, we are still a SIX-MLAs party. Technically, we are a 19-MLAs party (prior to the merger of its MLAs)," AICC spokesperson Sravan Dasoju told PTI. BJP winning four MPs in Lok Sabha polls does not mean it has got an absolute mandate, he said.
Congress has got organizational structure in every nook and corner of Telangana, whereas BJP has the gotsuch structure in only20 percent of the villages, he said. It is "ridiculous" for BJP to assume, because of the desertion of few leaders, that good days have begun for it and that Congress has shrunk, he said. "They are thinking that they can polarise people, but Telangana has a Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb (composite culture)," he said. The leadership issue is not for Congress but for the BJP as can be seen in it encouraging leaders from other parties to join, he said.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi told reporters Saturday that Sangh Parivar's alleged attempts to spread hate and hatred would not succeed in Telangana as an atmosphere of brotherhood prevails in the state. K Chandrasekhar Rao is a formidable Chief Minister and the state is number one in the country in social welfare, he said. There is also a strong regional feeling in Telangana which the BJP would not be able to change, Owaisi said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)