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HometelanganaBJP seeks to dispel Congress charges with 1st list for Telangana Assembly...

BJP seeks to dispel Congress charges with 1st list for Telangana Assembly Elections 2023

New Delhi: The BJP in its first list of candidates for the Telangana Assembly elections has sought to dispel Congress allegations that the saffron party has a tacit alliance with the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM to keep the grand old party out of power.

By fielding campaign committee chief Etala Rajender against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, the party has tried to underscore its political opposition to the BRS. Rajender, the first finance minister in the KCR government after the division of Andhra Pradesh, had an acrimonious parting with the BRS.

Though considered a left-of-centre leader, he joined the BJP in 2021 and later went on to win a bypoll from his traditional Huzurabad seat.

This time, apart from Huzurabad, Rajender will be challenging KCR from Gajwel.

On the rise

Rajender’s rise in the BJP has been part of the party’s efforts to mobilise backward classes which together constitute a large chunk of the electorate in the state. The constituency was nurtured by the TDP in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.

Not surprisingly, in its first list of 52 candidates released on Sunday, 20 are from the BC community including Bandi Sanjay, the former state president and a sitting Lok Sabha MP.

Sanjay was appointed BJP state chief after the 2019 elections to spearhead the party campaign. An aggressive BJP state unit under him worked to emerge as the alternative to the BRS by pushing Congress to the third spot.

However, Congress’ emphatic victory in Karnataka earlier this year altered political equations. The BJP’s decision to replace Sanjay with Union minister Kishen Reddy gave another opening to the Congress which has been trying to emerge as the main challenger to the BRS.

By targeting BRS, BJP, and AIMIM as being hand in glove, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has ostensibly been attempting to emerge as the prime repository of the anti-BRS votes after 10 years of incumbency. Conversely, a triangular contest and division in anti-establishment votes suit the ruling party.

Interestingly, BJP’s first list does not include the names of its state president Kishan Reddy, and party OBC morcha chief K Laxman. In Madhya Pradesh, though, the party has fielded 3 Union ministers.

Noticeable inclusion

The choice of former journalist Rani Rudrama Reddy from Sircilla against state minister KT Rama Rao is another noticeable inclusion. The seat has a high BC population and a candidate from the weavers community was an option for the party.

In the 2018 Assembly elections, BJP polled more than 7 per cent votes but won just 1 seat. The party’s performance improved in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where it managed to win 4 out of 17 seats in the state.

(Published 22 October 2023, 23:13 IST)

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