There are indications that Adilabad MP Soyam Bapu Rao will be inducted as a minister of state (MoS) when Prime Minister Narendra Modi reconstitutes his Cabinet for the last time in his second term — which political circles expect to happen sometime next month.
The BJP leadership is examining a proposal to induct Bapu Rao as MoS as part of its strategy to increase the number of Lok Sabha seats from Telangana in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP wants to enlist the support of the Backward Classes (BCs) and weaker sections now more than ever.
The party is keen to have the tribals in Telangana, who form a very large constituency, on its side. It hopes to achieve this feat by promoting Bapu Rao as an MoS.
That the party is wooing the weaker sections is a no-brainer. A tribal woman leader, Droupadi Murmu, is now occupying Rashtrapati Bhavan and her predecessor Ramanth Kovind was a Dalit.
In Telangana, BCs are being given priority in the party. BJP OBC Morcha president Dr K Laxman has been sent to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, while there are two BC MPs — Bandi Sanjay, who is president of the BJP state unit, and Arvind Dharmapuri.
Though there has been speculation that Bandi Sanjay would be moved to the Centre, the latest thinking in the party suggests that Bapu Rao fits into the party’s poll strategy to a T.
An experienced politician
Babu Rao has been in politics for the last 10 years and won the Assembly seat on the BRS ticket in 2014 after the formation of Telangana state.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, he joined the Congress and sought the party ticket for the Lok Sabha. Sensing that the Congress might not field him, he quickly joined the BJP and won from Adilabad in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He secured 35 percent of the votes.
The party hopes that by promoting Babu Rao as MoS, it could endear itself to the Adivasis in the Adilabad Lok Sabha constituency.
In this effort, the BJP has an advantage. The people in Adilabad, over a period of time, have come under the influence of Hindutva, the USP of the BJP. The people, by nature, are very sensitive to religious sentiments, and moulding them does not need much effort, say political analysts.
The BJP leaders feel that the promotion of Babu Rao as MoS will have a rub-off effect on Mahabubabad, another Lok Sabha constituency reserved for tribals.
Babu Rao is in the good books of the party after he successfully consolidated the fallout of communal clashes in Bhaisma in favour of the BJP. That apart, he is becoming popular among the tribals as he has been consistently taking up their issues in Parliament.
BJP giving Adilabad special attention
BJP’s organisational in-charge for Telangana Sunil Bansal and co-in-charge Arvind Menon are paying special attention to Adilabad.
Even Union Home Minister Amit Shah was scheduled to visit Adilabad but his tour was postponed in view of the commencement of the Budget Session of Parliament on 31 January. Party sources said that Amit Shah would visit Adilabad sooner than later to energise the party cadres and connect with tribals.
Meanwhile, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda and BJP state president Bandi Sanjay attended the Nagoba Jatara — the second-largest tribal fair in Telangana after Sammaka and Saralamma — on Sunday, 22 January, the optics of which are important to help them make an impression of the tribals.
As G Kishan Reddy is already a Cabinet minister from Hyderabad, the induction of another Hyderabad leader, Dr K Laxman, in the Cabinet is ruled out.
Though Dharmapuri Arvind is also a BC leader, the party is not considering the proposal to make him an MoS as another BC leader Sanjay is the party’s state president.
The Cabinet expansion, when it takes place, would be the last one in Narendra Modi’s second innings.
The next 20 months would be very crucial for him and the party as they would have to consolidate the gains they have made so far and win the electoral contest in 2024.