Rumblings within, lack of coordination cast shadow on Telangana BJP’s poll prep
By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, May 7 : With Assembly elections in Telangana only a few months away, the BJPs state unit appears to be facing problems in fighting the poll battle as a cohesive unit.
Though claiming to be the only viable alternative to the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and confident of storming to power, the BJP camp has been witnessing rumblings among different factions.
The differences came to the fore again this week when a section of leaders left for Khammam to meet former MP Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy and Jupalli Krishna Rao to invite them to join the BJP without informing the party’s state president Bandi Sanjay and other senior leaders.
The BJP’s joining committee led by its chairman and Huzurabad MLA Eatala Rajender, and some other leaders who are new to the party met Srinivas Reddy and Krishna Rao.
Bandi Sanjay, however, had no information about the visit of this group. As word spread about the conflict between the two groups and media persons posed a question to him, Sanjay gave an explanation which actually hints at a lack of coordination among leaders.
“I had no information about the meeting as I recently lost my mobile phone,” said Sanjay, who had complained to the police last week that he lost his phone while being arrested in the SSC malpractice case.
Sanjay then went on to add that there was nothing wrong with Eatala and others meeting anyone who has good relations with them.
Eatala and some other leaders who came into the party fold recently had gone to Khammam.
Some leaders who are loyal to Bandi Sanjay were unhappy that he was not informed about the meeting beforehand. This section says that protocol should have been followed.
The development comes amid reports of a rift between old and new leaders.
Eatala quit the BRS and joined the BJP in 2021 after he was dropped from the state cabinet. He also resigned as MLA and won the by-election as a BJP candidate by a huge margin, riding on his personal popularity in Huzurabad.
Last year, the BJP leadership made him chairman of the joining committee, which has been tasked with holding talks with leaders of other parties to invite them to the saffron party.
Since Srinivas Reddy and Krishna Rao were recently suspended by the BRS for anti-party activities, Eatala and others held talks with them to persuade them to join the saffron party.
During the meeting, which lasted for more than five hours, the duo reportedly gave no assurance but promised to reveal their final decision very soon.
BJP MLA Raghunandan Rao, former Chevella MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy and former MLA Enugu Ravinder Reddy were present on the occasion.
Political analysts say the differences between veteran leaders and new entrants is a disturbing trend in the BJP. Its leaders used to ridicule the Congress for the infighting between old loyal leaders and migrants from other parties but the saffron party is now facing a similar situation.
This is not the first time that the BJP is witnessing acrimony in its camp. Recently BJP MP Arvind Dharampuri had come out openly against Bandi Sanjay’s alleged derogatory remarks against BRS leader K. Kavitha, who is the daughter of Chief Minister KCR. The Nizamabad MP had said that he does not agree with Bandi’s remarks.
“I don’t support Bandi Sanjay’s statements. He is the party state president but I don’t support whatever he said,” Arvind had said. He also stated that the BJP has nothing to do with it. “Sanjay gave the statement and he himself should come clean on it,” said Arvind.
This was a jolt for the party as Arvind is a bitter critic of Chief Minister KCR and his family. In 2019, he had defeated sitting MP Kavitha in Nizamabad. A few months ago, Kavitha’s supporters had attacked the MP’s house in Hyderabad to protest against his remarks about her. Kavitha too had warned him that if he repeated such remarks, she would publicly beat him with her sandal.
Arvind finding fault with Sanjay’s remarks was surprising for the BJP and this indicated the differences among the leaders.
Former BJP national executive member and senior leader Perala Shekhar Rao too had come out against Sanjay’s comments. He warned that such things will damage the party during the assembly elections.
A section of the leaders feel that Sanjay’s immature and inappropriate words, dictatorship and undemocratic ways may damage the party’s prospects.
BRS leaders alleged that Sanjay made a derogatory statement against Kavitha saying that if Kavitha is not arrested, would she be kissed. He was referring to the Delhi liquor policy case in which she has been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
BRS women leaders lodged a complaint with the police. The BJP leader was also summoned and pulled up by the state women’s commission.
The issue of Arvind’s public criticism of the BJP state president reached the party’s central leadership.
In March, BJP national president JP Nadda, Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP general secretary organisation BL Santhosh and Telangana in-charge Tarun Chugh held a meeting with state party leaders including Arvind.
Taking note of the rumblings, the central leadership made it clear to the state leaders that there is no room for different camps within the party.
Amit Shah reportedly told the state leadership that if the BJP has to come to power in Telangana, it will have to fight like a cohesive unit.
Bandi Sanjay enjoys the confidence of the BJP top brass as it was under him that the party won two Assembly by-elections, put up a strong fight in the third by-election and also significantly improved its tally in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
At the BJP national executive meeting in Hyderabad last year and on other occasions Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Sanjay’s fighting spirit. Other central leaders also praised him for the manner in which he led the Praja Sangram Yatra to take on the BRS.
However, it is a known fact that the BJP has different groups. A section of leaders support Union minister G. Kishan Reddy while another section supports Eatala Rajender.
Political analysts say that in the wake of the recent developments, the BJP central leadership may give a clear warning to the groups to sink their differences and focus on unitedly fighting the elections.