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BJP Telangana President Bandi Sanjay along with supporters during GHMC election victory celebrations at BJP State Party office in Nampally in Hyderabad on Friday. Image Credit: ANI

Hyderabad: The stunning performance by the BJP in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has sent the ripples across Telangana.

With the emergence of the BJP as the second largest party behind the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in the 150-member GHMC, elated BJP leaders were dreaming of capturing power in the state.

State BJP President Bandi Sanjay Kumar, MP from Karimnagar, who led the campaign from the front, was being hailed by the party rank and file as the “hero of the moment” and in all likelihood will be projected as the main challenger to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

Though the saffron party could not realise its dream of wresting the power in GHMC and installing its own Mayor, the fact that it bagged 49 seats (up from four in 2016) has come as a shot in the arm for it. In an indication of the significance BJP was attaching to this, many national party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to senior state leaders and gave them a pat on the back.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, one of the star campaigners for the BJP in Hyderabad congratulated Bandi Sanjay.

Many state BJP leaders hoped that Hyderabad results will not only set the party on the path of coming to power in the state but will also open a new chapter in entire South India. So far the party’s area of influence in south was confined to only Karnataka.

Terming his party’s performance as “saffron strike” Bandi Sanjay Kumar told the media, “With this, the countdown has begun for the TRS and the KCR”.

Single largest party

The TRS was left in shock by the results as its strength came down from 99 seats five years ago to mere 56. Though the party emerged as the single largest, the big question before it was how to win the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Even after factoring in its 31 ex-officio members (Legislators and MPs), TRS will be short of majority. The only option before it will be to seek the support of its friendly rival All India Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). When asked about it, TRS working president K Taraka Rama Rao said that the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor was not due for another two months. “We will discuss the matter with in the party and decide”, he said.

AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi took the same line and said that the party will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time on the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor.   newly elected AIMIM GHMC Corporator Syed Sohail Quadri being greeted by AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi

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Newly elected AIMIM GHMC Corporator Syed Sohail Quadri being greeted by AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi (left).. Image Credit: ANI

A sullen TRS leadership has started the internal exercise to identify the causes behind the electoral setback despite elaborate planning and preparations. A senior party leader said, “We had done everything possible. The Chief Minister had announced many sops, including free supply of drinking water; Rs10,000 was given to every family affected by the floods”.

K Kavitha, senior TRS leader and daughter of KCR said, “We got caught in the fight between the BJP and the AIMIM”. She was referring to the BJP’s aggressive campaign and emotional pitch targeting AIMIM and the Owaisi brothers.

Margin of loss

Other TRS leaders felt that BJP’s card of communal polarisation worked to some extent and some people got carried away. But they also pointed out that the margin of loss in as many as 17 divisions was very narrow. In BN Reddy Nagar BJP won with the lowest margin of 32 votes while in five other divisions it was less than 300 votes.

There was also talk of internal dissensions and in fighting of leaders creating problems for candidates.

But October’s devastating floods seems to have helped the BJP to a large extent. While in the flood hit areas of the old city, AIMIM could retain its hold, in the other areas people angered by TRS’ failure to help them went with the BJP.

For AIMIM, the civic election was a case of status quo as the party retained its earlier strength of 44 with a good strike rate. This time the party had contested 51 seats and won 44. About the BJP’s claim that it had made in roads into “Owaisi’s home”, Hyderabad MP told a press conference, “Of the 44 divisions in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency, MIM contested 34 and won 30 divisions. We had won exactly the same number of divisions in last elections”.

He attributed his party’s success to round the clock accessibility of leaders and relief work during the lockdown and the floods. “Our leaders and workers were with the people in the time of crisis”, Owaisi said.

On BJP’s performance Owaisi said it was a temporary phenomenon. “KCR is the most formidable political face of not only Telangana but also of entire South India. He represents the ideology, aspirations and sentiments of Telangana. I am sure he will take steps to rectify the situation”, he said.

While reiterating that MIM will contest assembly elections in West Bengal Owaisi said, “We will not contest elections in Kerala and Assam. We will not disturb Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF in Assam and Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala.”