Double delight for BJP in Telangana

Party makes strong gains by winning 4 seats, inflicts defeat on KCR family scion

From a win in just one Assembly seat of the 118 constituencies it contested for the Telangana Legislature in December last, to winning four Lok Sabha seats and trouncing the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in its bastions in the Lok Sabha elections in just four months marks a spectacular performance by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

And, the giant-killing defeat inflicted on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter K. Kavita in Nizamabad by first-timer D. Aravind was the icing on the cake. Boisterous celebrations broke out at the State BJP office in Nampally here, only a few hundred yards from the desolate Congress headquarters of Gandhi Bhavan.

It was a double delight for the party as it was, in any case, ready to celebrate the victory of the NDA at the Centre. Just a day before the results, senior partymen were confident of retaining just Secunderabad constituency, which was won by senior leader and former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya in 2014 and being represented by G. Kishan Reddy this time.

They talked of “giving a tough fight to TRS in six other constituencies, pushing Congress to the third place”. But, as leads came in towards noon, it became clear the BJP was set to upset the TRS applecart. Its candidates surged ahead in Nizamabad, Adilabad (where former Congress leader S. Babu Rao was fielded), Secunderabad, where G. Kishan Reddy, was doing well as expected and Karimnagar, where party veteran Bandi Sanjay was contesting.

Incidentally, three of the four victorious BJP candidates had contested in Assembly elections and lost. “My joy knows no bounds as this is the best performance by our party contesting alone in the 30 years of my political career. It is only due to the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s development and welfare schemes which got us support from all sections of society,” said Telangana party chief K. Laxman, exulting over the performance.

‘Vote against family rule’

He said this was also a vote against the “family and dictatorial rule” of Chief Ministers of both Telugu States — Andhra Pradesh’s N. Chandrababu Naidu and K. Chandrasekhar Rao of Telangana. “This should serve as a lesson to them as they were busy touring the country to drum up support for their respective fronts without realising that the ground was slipping fast under their feet.”

Mr. Laxman was highlighting the results against the backdrop of past performance. The BJP had contested in 45 Assembly seats and eight LS seats in 2014, in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party, garnering 7.1% vote share, with five victorious MLAs and a lone MP. It got 7% vote again in the 2018 Assembly polls bagging just one constituency – Goshamahal in the capital.

The last time that the party contested on its own was in 1998 when it bagged four LS seats in united AP — two in Telangana region. In 1999, it won seven LS seats in alliance with the TDP, including four in Telangana region. By contesting all 17 LS seats on its own, the party estimates its vote share to be 18-20%, which would make it perfectly positioned to take on the TRS in the next poll.

“All these years we were accused of celebrating victories of the party elsewhere. Now, we will be celebrating our own local victories. It demolished the myth that we are an urban party. At a time when the poll was billed a referendum on Mr. Modi’s rule,” the party chief said.

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