Amit Shah reveals BJP’s hand at Khamman meeting; it’s still Hindutva card in Telangana

BJP wants to play on emotive issues rather than focusing on the lack of infrastructure and grey areas in the implementation of the welfare schemes.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Aug 29, 2023 | 12:00 PMUpdatedAug 29, 2023 | 12:00 PM

Telangana BJP leaders with Amit Shah in Khammam. (Supplied)

The message is abundantly clear. Going forward, too, the BJP wants to draw its strength from Hindutva despite opposition from the new entrants in the party that the organisation should change its tack ahead of the Telangana Assembly elections in December.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah made the message clear by launching a broadside against AIMIM, saying it has been steering the car —  the electoral symbol of the ruling BRS — at a public meeting in Khammam on Sunday, 27 August.

Shah’s assertion that AIMIM was a pariah indicated the party’s stand in the Assembly elections: It wants to play on emotive issues rather than focusing on the lack of infrastructure and grey areas in the implementation of the welfare schemes of the BRS’ dispensation.

Former BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar’s line of attack on the AIMIM, which was mostly launched from a Hindutva platform, came under sharp criticism by the lateral entrants into the party, mainly Huzurabad MLA Eatala Rajender, who tried to persuade the party to change its offensive against the BRS.

He, along with former MLA and lateral entrant from the Congress, Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy, wanted the party to learn from the lack of response to the Hindutva agenda in Karnataka, where it faced a humiliating defeat.

Related: Amit Shah turns AIMIM into ammo to flay BRS

All religion, little politics

Shah’s speech was a highly polarising one. For instance, he made references to Bhakta Ramadas and how he was imprisoned by the then Muslim rulers for constructing the Bhadradri Ramalayam.

That apart, there were several other references presenting Muslims in poor light.

He spoke of Tirumula Venkanna, Sthamabadri Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple in Khammam; the role Jamalapuram Keshavarao of Khamma had played in Liberation of Telangana from the clutches of Muslim rule; and how K Chandrashekar Rao had skipped the age-old tradition of the chief minister presenting silk robes to Lord Ram at the Bhadradri Temple on Sriramanavami day.

BJP general secretary Bandi Sanjay Kumar’s attack on AIMIM has always been along Amit Shah’s line. Bandi Sanjay, when he was president of the BJP state unit, dared the AIMIM to contest all 119 Assembly seats in the state, implying that the AIMIM had tacit understanding with the BRS.

The statement was believed to have been made to brand the BRS as communal as it was working in cohorts with the AIMIM.

If the AIMIM contests all seats, there would be a division in Muslim votes and, in the process, the BRS would suffer.

He had also sought to paint the BRS as a communal party by declaring that the BJP, after coming to power, would demolish the domes of the newly-built state secretariat as they reflected Muslim architecture.

But this line of attack was not to the liking of Eatala Rajender and other leaders who joined the saffron party with the sole intention of defeating KCR, rather than lending support to the Hindutva ideology.

Rajender, who has a far left background, favoured a direct attack on the BRS over its omissions and commissions without religion being drawn into it. It was only expected of him as he was brought up in an ecosystem that despised the use of religion as a device to divide society.

For Congress, BRS-AIMIM is BJP’s B team

Though the BJP brands AIMIM as its enemy No 1, the Congress, on the other hand, looks at the BRS-AIMIM as the BJP’s B team.

There have been instances of the Congress leaders accusing KCR of helping the BJP by roping in AIMIM to divide Muslim votes in other parts of the country.

AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, after releasing SC/ST Declaration at Chevella in Hyderabad, called the BRS the saffron party’s B Team as it always tries to help the BJP at the hustings by dividing the anti-BJP vote, though he did not specifically mention the AIMIM.

Related: Eatala gets his way as BJP replaces Bandi Sanjay with Kishan Reddy

Get up, start moving

Amit Shah, after the public meeting, he conferred with state-level leaders, where he reportedly asked them to intensify the campaign as Assembly elections were drawing close. He also gave a piece of his mind to them for more than half an hour for not being able to speed up the campaign and gain an upper hand over the BRS and the Congress.

The BJP’s top leader also sought opinions on how the party machinery was moving to take a lead in the poll campaigning as he had an ambitious target of capturing power in the state.

Shah’s advice to the party leaders was seen as an attempt to make them cut no slack in campaigning despite the Karnataka backlash.

He reportedly asked the party leaders to sink their differences and work as a team and thus send out positive vibes to the people that there was nothing amiss in the wake of reports that schism was dogging the party.

He reportedly said that he has been underscoring the need for better coordination, without which working together would not be possible. If there was no coordination between various committees, the objective of winning the elections might be in jeopardy. Shah also asked the election and manifesto committees to speed up their work.