Hyderabad: From ‘washing powder Nirma’ posters showing politicians who defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and evaded ‘graft probes’, to ‘wanted’ banners featuring BJP national general secretary B.L. Santhosh, to liquor bottles next to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC K. Kavitha’s picture — Telangana politics is in the throes of a poster war.
The war was stepped up a notch after the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) scanner fell on Kavitha — Telangana Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao’s (KCR) daughter — in connection with the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam. The BJP and the BRS, however, have taken no official responsibility for the posters.
The most recent highlight was on 12 March, when Union home minister Amit Shah landed in Hyderabad and was welcomed with banners saying “washing powder Nirma” — with the morphed faces of several BJP leaders superimposed on the famous “Nirma girl”.
According to reports, the morphed faces included Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, senior Karnataka BJP leader and former minister K.S.Eshwarappa, and West Bengal’s Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, to name a few.
The posters were apparently implying that these leaders’ association with the BJP — in some cases, their defection to it from another party — had protected them from investigations relating to alleged scams.
Also Read: In CBI, ED crosshairs over Delhi liquor ‘scam’, KCR’s daughter Kavitha set to be BRS national secy
Kavitha vs the BJP
Along with virtual posters circulating on social media in support of each of the parties there at least five such physical posters in addition to the washing powder banner.
Amid the ongoing ED probe into Kavitha, posters cropped up over the past two weeks connecting the MLC to the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam.
Next to Kavitha’s picture were images of liquor bottles and allegations that she had brought shame to Telangana. These posters that came up on 18 March were a counter to the “wanted” banners with Santhosh’s face that had appeared three days earlier.
The “wanted” poster was also tweeted by BRS leader and Telangana State Renewable Energy Department Chairman Y. Sathish Reddy last week.
Santhosh is one of the accused in the Telangana MLA poaching scam, where the local police claimed that agents of the BJP had tried to poach BRS MLAs. Although Santhosh was served notices by Telangana’s SIT, he never appeared before investigators. The case has reached the high court.
On 14 March, Reddy again tweeted a photo of a banner set up in Hyderabad, saying that after demonetisation, it was time for “DeMODItisation”.
Modi introduced #Demonetisation, because he felt the old system is a failure,
Now because Modi accepts Demonetisation is failure, its time to#deMODItisation pic.twitter.com/g1BwfVIvDp
— YSR (@ysathishreddy) March 14, 2023
When Kavitha was set to appear at the ED office for interrogation, posters with the caption ‘Raid’ on the packaging of another well-known detergent, Tide, popped up in Hyderabad. The posters had the taglines “True colors never fade,” and “ByeBye Modi.” Reddy also tweeted the poster.
not Tide, it’s Raid 👇#ED pic.twitter.com/wpfrGxVvDN
— YSR (@ysathishreddy) March 11, 2023
The posters attempted to contrast leaders who allegedly evaded investigations by joining the BJP with Kavitha. In November last year, she had claimed that friends of the BJP had approached her to join the party, but she “politely rejected” their suggestions.
Also Read: BJP modus operandi similar to TRS’ — Why Telangana Congress filed plaint against KCR for poaching
A phenomenon from the past
Hyderabad also saw pictures of freedom fighters including Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, and Subhas Chandra Bose with hands over their mouths. Below each freedom fighter was a contemporary politician, also with a hand over his or her mouth: Kavitha (placed right below Gandhi in the centre of the poster), her father KCR, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K Stalin, and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The poster compared “British rule” in the past to “BJP rule” now, implying that the BJP was attempting to silence its opponents just as the colonial rulers had done. Tweeted by Reddy, it also had a caption saying, “Democracy in crisis…Mahatma save India.”
Then #BritishRule, Now #BJPRule,
Nothing much changed! 👇 pic.twitter.com/ERJxu9Tpej
— YSR (@ysathishreddy) March 16, 2023
But this phenomenon is not new. BRS leaders on several occasions in the past had alleged that the BJP was targeting Kavitha to soften up KCR, who had renamed his party BRS with an aim of establishing it as a national party.
In the past too, there were posters against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over India’s economic situation, and against Union minister Smriti Irani for an LPG price hike.
There were posters against KCR, too, especially at the time of the BJP national executive committee meeting in Hyderabad last year, when there was another poster war. The BRS (then TRS) for its part had set up major hoardings — especially close to the venue of the event — purporting to show KCR’s achievements, as well as anti-Modi posters.
(Edited by Richa Mishra)
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