As discontent simmers, BJP central leadership in a bind over keeping its Telangana flock together

The party wants to placate the dissidents in the party so that they would stay put and do not look at the Congress.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 08, 2023 | 6:40 PM Updated Jun 08, 2023 | 6:40 PM

Eatala Rajendar, Bandi Sanjay Kumar.

The BJP central leadership appears to have decided to safeguard the big fish that it has landed in recent times in Telangana, especially as some of them seem to consider the Congress a better bet after its decisive victory over the saffron party in the recent Assembly elections in neighbouring Karnataka.

As the BJP’s fortunes appear to be on the decline, at least for now, the party is seeking to consolidate the gains it had made so far in Telangana.

Related: It’s lateral entrants vs RSS men in BJP’s Telangana unit

Efforts on to keep dissidents happy

The BJP wants to somehow placate the dissidents in the party so that they would stay put and not look at the Congress which is basking in the afterglow of its victory in Karnataka.

Huzurabad legislator and former minister Eatala Rajender, who is the leader of the dissidents in the party, has managed to convey to BJP party leadership his dissatisfaction over the way the party is being run in Telangana.

According to sources, Eatala’ Rajenders strategy of taking the enemy, the BRS, head-on is at variance with the BJP’s established course — using Hindutva as its main plank. This has become a cause of dissonance.

There have been reports that the party might entrust him with an important responsibility, such as making him the campaign in-charge in Telangana.

Though Rajender’s supporters want him to lead the party in Telangana, it is unlikely that the BJP would accede to their request since he is of non-RSS stock.

Also read: BRS dissidents weigh new option in Telangana — the Congress

Bandi Sanjay and his supporters

In case Bandi Sanjay goes to Delhi, as is being suggested in some quarters, the BJP would be saddled with another problem — the vacuum his leaving would create.

While he may not be popular with the lateral entrants to the party, Bandi Sanjay, by all accounts, had endeared himself to the people during his Praja Sangrama Yatra and is believed to have proselytised large chunks of BCs — erstwhile supporters of the BRS — into BJP supporters.

Then the question remains as to what would happen to the party cadres that had been working for Bandi Sanjay if he is taken to Delhi to handle some important assignment, as reports reaching Hyderabad point out.

“I do not think the party would contemplate changing the guard in Telangana. Not when the elections are not very far off. The status quo will continue. The party at the most might make the dissident elements feel important by consulting them often,” one senior BJP leader, who did not want his name quoted, told South First.

Rajender, who has a far-left background, wants the party not to bank too much on its Hindutva philosophy but take all sections, including the minorities, along.

He is against using Hindutva as an electoral device that banks on fomenting communal passions.

Related: Bandi Sanjay dismisses speculations of TDP-BJP alliance

Hindutva not working in the South

As Modi’s mojo and his Hindutva campaign did not work in Karnataka, it would be foolhardy to use the same strategy in Telangana as it is another southern state where polarisation between Hindus and Muslims may not be as easy as it is in the North, the Rajender camp believes.

Then again, in Karnataka, the Congress won the elections because it focused more on regional issues than the national agenda that the BJP Delhi leaders took to the state, Rajender’s supporters argue.

Eatala Rajender thus wants non-ideological issues like corruption, lack of employment for the youth, and the “dictatorial tendencies” of BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, to be taken up to turn the public opinion in favour of the BJP.

From Rajender’s perspective, considering his ideological background, he cannot be expected to think on any different lines — but this is not to the liking of the hardcore Hindutva leaders, especially Telangana state chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar who wears the Hindutva ideology on his sleeve.

Bandi Sanjay, a dyed-in-the-wool RSS leader, talks nothing but Hindutva.

Also read: KTR slams Congress for seeking people’s support in Telangana

Tracking the ‘coverts’

Even as these developments have a deeply unsettling effect, the BJP leadership is also grappling with the problem of “coverts” — leaders with sympathies elsewhere — who are reportedly swarming the party.

In fact, Eatala Rajender, in the past, had said that it comes as no surprise to find coverts in BJP. He had said he knew how KCR’s mind works.

He has his men in all parties working for him, he had said.

It was precisely the reason why no leader from BRS was willing to join the BJP, as KCR would get to know about his party men’s moves, claimed Rajender, who is also chairman of the “Joinings Committee” of the party.

The tipping point has not yet come, but the day may not be far off when some of the Congress’s prodigal sons, including former MPs Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy, Vivek Venkatswamy, and Konda Visweswar Reddy, and former MLA Marri Shashidhar Reddy, seek to abandon the BJP and return home to the grand old party.