Hyderabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to deploy party bigwigs to campaign for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, national president J.P. Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath among those on the list.
On the star campaigners list is also former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. The leaders are expected to arrive in the city over the next few days. The last day for campaigning is 29 November and elections are on 1 December.
The BJP has turned what would ordinarily be a mere local election for the 150 GHMC seats into a star-studded affair, in a bid to unseat the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
On Sunday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar took part in the BJP’s door-to-door campaign, saying that KCR (a reference to Chief Minister K. Chandrshekhar Rao) had promised to turn Hyderabad into a global city but had instead turned it into a flood city (referring to the recent flash floods in Hyderabad).
A day later, the party’s new favourite young MP and its Yuva Morcha president, Tejasvi Surya, took part in rallies in the city.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani was in the city Wednesday where she attended a press conference.
“The chief minister and his family seeks to bleed the coffers of the state and this great city, and seeks to depend on illegal immigrants for their political gain,” Irani said.
She also attacked the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the ruling TRS accusing the parties, which are allies, of encouraging illegal immigrants “including Bangladeshis” to acquire fake voter cards.
At @BJP4Telangana HQ, addressed a press conference on how Convenient Corrupt Collaboration of TRS and AIMIM is leading to absolute political apathy & governance crisis in the iconic city of Hyderabad. #TRSBetraysGHMC pic.twitter.com/9xIkWnNR2R
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) November 25, 2020
Polarisation a key BJP focus
The BJP has sought to polarise the elections by making the ties between the TRS and the AIMIM its central plank.
Tejasvi Surya, who was in the city Monday, accused Owaisi of spreading ‘rabid Islamism’ and compared him to Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. He also said Owaisi was allowing Rohingya Muslims to settle in the old city, adding that every vote for Owaisi will be a vote against India.
Reacting to his comments, Owaisi asked what Union Home Minister Amit Shah was doing if there were indeed so many Rohingyas in Hyderabad. He also challenged the BJP to come out with a list of at least a few of those alleged Rohingya settlers.
“If there are 30,000 Rohingyas in the electoral list, what is Home Minister Amit Shah doing? Is he sleeping?” Owaisi asked Monday. “Isn’t this his job to see how 30,000-40,000 Rohingyas are listed? If the BJP is honest, it should show 1,000 such names by tomorrow.”
But not to be left behind, state unit president Bandi Sanjay, said Tuesday that if the BJP is elected to power, it will conduct a ‘surgical strike’ in the older part of the city and remove “Rohingya Muslims” and “members of Pakistan”.
The saffron party, riding high on its recent Dubakka bypoll success, is aiming to cut through the ruling party votes in the city and attract urban voters. In the previous GHMC body, the ruling TRS had won 99 divisions, the AIMIM had won 44, leaving the remaining seven for all the other parties and Independents.