From plight to plaudits: Bandi Sanjay Kumar emerges a vindicated politician

The BJP leadership, keeping in view his contribution to making BJP a force to reckon with in Telangana, took him into the Union Cabinet.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 10, 2024 | 10:00 AMUpdatedJun 10, 2024 | 10:00 AM

BJP leader Bandi Sanjay Kumar after winning the Lok Sabha elections on 4 June, 2024.

From a mere corporator in a municipal corporation to Union minister, BJP national general secretary Bandi Sanjay Kumar’s meteoric rise in a matter of just five years is nothing short of a miracle.

His resounding victory in the Karimnagar Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana by a margin of over 2.5 lakh votes cleared doubts anyone had about his leadership qualities.

He vanquished his nearest rival Congress’ Velchala Rajender Rao and pushed BRS nominee B Vinod Kumar to the third position.

The BJP leadership, keeping in view his contribution to making BJP a force to reckon with in Telangana, took him into the Union Cabinet.

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Coming into the spotlight

No one knew much about him till the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

When BJP fielded him for Karimnagar, BRS — then TRS — thought winning the seat had become a fait accompli. The party regional party had thought he was no match for its candidate, incumbent MP B Vinod Kumar.

Only after the results trickled in did everyone realise that Sanjay Kumar was made of a different mettle.

After winning the Lok Sabha election from Karimnagar in 2019, Sanjay Kumar breathed new life into the Telangana unit of BJP.

A firebrand leader, he latched on to allegations of a nexus between BRS and AIMIM, and forcefully took Hindutva — the bread and butter of his party — into the midst of local Hindus.

Sanjay Kumar, who was tempered in the school of RSS over a period of time, emerged as the fiery crusader of Hindutva for BJP.

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The history of Bandi Sanjay Kumar

Born on 11 July, 1971 in Karimnagar, he took part actively in RSS programmes since he was 12.

He was associated with the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) — a student organisation associated with the RSS — and held leadership positions.

He served as a corporator in Karimnagar Municipal Corporation since 2005. In 2019, he resigned and contested for Parliament, which he won.

The party’s national leadership, noticing the spark in Sanjay Kumar, anointed him the president of its Telangana unit in 2020. He continued in that position till July 2023.

Another reason that made him an important leader was his constant attacks on the BRS government and the then chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao on various issues.

After the advent of the Congress government in the state in December last year, he continued his frontal attack on the new regime.

Meanwhile, BJP emerged stronger in the Assembly polls, making it clear that it was all set to be the alternative to Congress in Telangana.

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Bandi Sanjay Kumar’s aggressive campaign during the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in December 2020 established him as a redoubtable leader in the state.

He helped BJP win 48 out of the 150 seats in the GHMC. Till then the BJP practically did not exist when it came to the GHMC.

He also helped the party spread its wing in the rural areas, as it was perceived that BJP was essentially urban-centric in Telangana.

In 2001, he took out what he called Praja Sangram Yatra, in which he washed the dirty linen of the BRS government and its alleged minority-appeasement politics.

Sanjay, in his padayatra, which was taken up in phases, covered 60 Assembly segments. He walked over 1,500 km in 120 days, introducing the party to the people in several districts where it did not have a significant footprint.

The party, for reasons that flummoxed everyone, brought in Union minister G Kishan Reddy as the state-unit president to lead it in the Assembly elections in the later part of 2023.

This gave rise to speculation that BJP had decided to go soft on BRS.

As Bandi Sanjay Kumar — who is a Munnur Kapu, which is a Backward Class (BC) community — was doing extremely well, it was no difficult task for him to raise an army of supporters among the youth.

His fearlessness in attacking BRS, Congress, and AIMIM captured the attention of the youth.

He was appointed a national general secretary of the party after Kishan Reddy took over as Telangana BJP president.

Though his role as national general secretary was not much, since all major decisions are taken by the top brass, he put up with whatever discomfiture he felt after being removed as the Telangana BJP president and waited for the better days.

Though he suffered a setback by losing the Assembly election from Karimnagar to BRS nominee G Kamalakar by a whisker (3,163 votes), he quickly bounced back and captured the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)