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Arrests, court battles, communal row — how TRS, BJP are going all out in Telangana bypoll

Both CM KCR and Union home minister Amit Shah have visited Munugode constituency & held big rallies, although the Election Commission is yet to announce the bypoll date

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Hyderabad: From heavyweights holding rallies to a padayatra by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader being stopped, and from allegations connecting the CM’s daughter with a liquor ‘scam’ to a row involving “communal” remarks, the political temperature has shot up ahead of the high-stakes Munugode assembly by-election in Telangana.

The election was necessitated after Congress legislator Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy resigned on 2 August from the party and the Telangana assembly.

Reddy joined the BJP last week in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah in Munugode. Shah claimed that this was the beginning of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao’s (KCR) downfall.

At his Munugode public meeting, the Union minister also spoke about KCR’s “unfulfilled promises” — such as failing to make a Dalit the chief minister — and about ending the CM’s “corrupt” rule in Telangana.

Shah’s high-voltage event took place a day after the chief minister lashed out at the Union government over its policies, especially for not deciding on Telangana’s share of Krishna river water.

Both KCR and Shah have visited the constituency, although the Election Commission is yet to announce the bypoll date. Under the Representation of the People Act, a by-election has to be conducted within six months of the date of occurrence of the vacancy.

Victory in the bypoll is crucial for both the TRS and the BJP, which are caught in a neck-and-neck battle.

Ever since its win over the TRS in the 2020 Dubbaka assembly bypoll, the BJP has been upbeat about its prospect in Telangana which will go to the polls the next year.

Another assembly bypoll win in the TRS’s stronghold, Huzurabad, and a robust performance in the Greater Hyderabad municipal poll in 2021, have pushed the party to set its focus on Telangana.

The BJP held its national executive committee meeting in July in Hyderabad, making it clear that Telangana is a focal point for its ‘mission south’. Shah, personally, is overseeing the party’s quest to expand its footprint in the south, where it has hitherto managed to make substantial gains only in Karnataka.

Also Read: KCR vs Modi? How PM’s meeting with corporators fits into BJP’s 2023 Telangana gameplan

Fight reached Delhi as well

While Shah was lambasting KCR in Telangana, BJP MP Parvesh Verma and former MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa in Delhi claimed that the CM’s daughter K. Kavitha was involved in the alleged Delhi liquor scam.

Claiming this was being done to defame her father, Kavitha obtained an injunction order from a Hyderabad court, which restrained the BJP leaders from making or publishing any defamatory statements against her.

On Saturday, BJP national president J.P. Nadda called KCR the “new Nizam” of Telangana.  At a public meeting in Warangal, Nadda recalled how the Nizam had prohibited public programmes, speeches, and the opening of schools. “Likewise, KCR’s prohibitory orders are the last ones and he will be voted out. He is the new Nizam of Telangana,” Nadda told
the rally.

Nadda’s comments come in the wake of the hurdles that Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay’s ‘Praja Sangrama Yatra’ faced from the state government.

Sanjay, who is currently in his third phase of his padayatra (walkathon), was taken into custody last week when he announced a protest against the arrest of BJP workers outside Kavitha’s residence in Hyderabad.

The BJP leader then moved the Telangana High Court challenging the notice issued by the police to stop the padayatra in Jangaon district. The judge gave him permission to continue his walkathon. The Telangana government has now filed a petition challenging the single judge’s order.

On the same day Sanjay was arrested, BJP MLA Raja Singh was arrested separately for allegedly making derogatory comments against Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad that triggered a row. This came in the backdrop of comedian Munawar Faruqui’s show in Hyderabad, which Singh had unsuccessfully tried to stop.

Singh was granted bail but again detained with the police calling him an ‘habitual offender’, after he released a video declaring that he wasn’t scared of anybody.

Amidst this controversy, KCR appealed to people to “chase away religious fanatics”.  The choice is between a ‘pantala Telangana’ (state with green fields) or a ‘mantala Telangana’ (state burning with communal tensions), he said.

The TRS and the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) have been claiming that the BJP is trying to disturb the communal harmony of Hyderabad and of the state as a whole.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Who is KA Paul? Telugu-evangelist-turned politician who seems to have caught BJP’s interest



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