When senior BJP leader and former parliamentarian G. Vivek Venkataswamy said, “Meeru chesthe samsaram, memu cheste vebhicharama?”, he didn’t just mean, “If you do it, it’s justified and if we do then it’s wrong…” His words—almost a replay of over-the-top dialogues in Telugu films—gave context to the party’s spectacular show in the high-stakes polls to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
Last week, the saffron party caused a stunning upset by winning 48 out of 150 wards in GHMC—a spectacular turnaround from its 2016 tally of four. Though the ruling TRS managed to emerge as the single-largest party with 55 wards, it fell short of the required 75 needed to retain the post of mayor.
As talk of a truck between the TRS and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM—which won 44 wards—swirled in the post-poll haze, the BJP alleged that chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and the minority leader has already arrived at an understanding over a dinner meet, where they had the famed Hyderabad biriyani.
Union minister for state for home G. Kishen Reddy’s claim has some logic as that’s what exactly happened in Nizamabad where the BJP had won 28 seats in the municipal polls and emerged as the single-largest party last year. Yet, it was denied the top post with the TRS (which had won 16) and AIMIM (with 13) joining hands to elect their choice of mayor. The CM’s daughter Kavitha had suffered a humiliating defeat in Nizamabad at the hands of the BJP candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “Where is the doubt? TRS will repeat the same even in the GHMC,” Reddy said.
For the AIMIM, a tacit understanding with the TRS will be handy in keeping the BJP out, provided it gets a fair deal. So, if AIMIM is to support TRS in the mayoral polls, Outlook has learnt, Owaisi wants KCR to give legal sanctity to the revenue-rich Wakf Board, besides allowing Shariat law in matters of Muslims.
And therein lies the context for the BJP’s leader’s dialogue when Venkataswamy was asked about the AIMIM’s allegations that the saffron party—which had seen its big guns led by Union home minister Amit Shah campaign in Hyderabad—had indulged in the politics of polarisation in their pre-poll speeches. The BJP leader pointed out that the AIMIM’s brand of politics is built solely around Muslim identity. “People are not fools to believe the so-called public postures of both these parties,” he said. “We have arrived in Telangana and our victory in the 2023 polls is unstoppable….Both (TRS and AIMIM) are feathers of same bird and they chose to flock together whenever required.”
Though the TRS has time till January-end for the GHMC mayoral polls, KCR may want to complete the exercise quickly given the fact that the party has to draw up a strategy for the upcoming by-elections for the Nagarjunsagar seat and polls for two more civic bodies, Khammam and Warangal. More so given the fact that the Hyderabad results have already started to attract star leaders to the BJP.
On December 7, actor-turned politician Vijayashanti dumped the Congress and returned to the BJP. The 54-year-old actor had started her political career with the BJP in 1997 but later joined TRS before turning to the Congress in 2014. Just for the record, the Congress won just two seats in GHMC, a big fall for a party which was once the dominant force in the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh.
By M.S. Shanker in Hyderabad