Hyderabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in an aggressive mode to wrest power in two southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the next elections.
This was evident when BJP’s No. 2 and Federal Home Minister Amit Shah met two influential Telugu personalities – media baron Ramoji Rao and popular Telugu actor Junior NTR in Hyderabad.
Amit Shah, who was in Hyderabad and addressed an election meeting in Munogode assembly constituency, met the two celebrities separately and spent a considerable time with them.
The Home Minister, driving back from Munogode in Nalgonda district, stopped at Ramoji Film City and met its owner and media baron, the 80-year-old Ramoji Rao. The two met privately without any aide and spent nearly an hour.
BJP leaders said that they did not have any idea about the agenda of the meeting. “Only thing we can say is that it was a pre-planned meeting”.
Later, popular Telugu film star Junior NTR, whose latest hit RRR made history at the box office, met the BJP leader at Novotel Hotel at Shamshabad airport.
The two met along with others for 20 minutes and then went into a huddle for another 15 minutes private discussion.
The meeting took place at the initiative of Amit Shah with the state BJP leaders stating that Shah wanted to congratulate NTR on the success of RRR.
The meetings have created a flutter as they are being seen as the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s drive to expand BJP’s sphere of influence in the two Telugu states.
Both NTR and Ramoji Rao have good clout in the two states as NTR has star power and Ramoji owns the biggest media network – largest circulated Telugu Daily and regional TV channels. Observers say that the BJP might be cultivating them for their support. Ramoji Rao had extended open support to the TDP since its launch by N T Rama Rao in 1982 and subsequently N Chandrababu Naidu in mid 1990s.
Political leaders in both Andhra and Telangana were keenly watching the developments on this front.
Kodali Nani, a former minister in Andhra, said: “Modi and Shah have many cards up their sleeves to expand their party. These meetings were also part of it...”.
Party leaders believe that the wind was turning in its favour with at least two important leaders of other parties joining its ranks. First was the senior Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader and former finance minister E Rajinder who was re-elected to assembly on BJP ticket.
Latest is Komati Reddy Rajagopal Reddy of Congress who resigned from the assembly before joining the BJP. Rajagopal is now contesting from the same Munugode constituency and Amit Shah was in town to campaign for him.
While BJP was confident of victory, the ruling TRS and its supremo Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was not leaving any stone unturned to wrest the seat.
KCR was first to kickstart the campaign with a mammoth meeting a day before Amit Shah’s meeting. Both the meetings attracted good crowds.