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BJP’s Medak metaphor

BJP’s Medak metaphor
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The Bharatiya Janata Party has officially announced its decision to contest the by-elections from Medak Lok Sabha seat. It is the first test of...

The Bharatiya Janata Party has officially announced its decision to contest the by-elections from Medak Lok Sabha seat. It is the first test of strength after K Chandrasekhar Rao has taken over the mantle of power in the new state of Telangana. Medak by-election is caused due to the resignation of KCR himself. Thus, the by-election assumes added political importance. The BJP’s official announcement is preceded by the high profile visit of party president and master political strategist Amit Shah. Amit Shah’s visit was aimed at energising the party rank and file and could not have come in a much better time. The Medak by-election comes close on the heels of the civic polls in Hyderabad where the BJP-TDP combine has relatively more stakes. All this lend added emphasis to the by-election which otherwise would have been a non-event.

The BJP strategy is quite clear. The party has no significant base. It primarily depends on the possible impact of the national political scene that presents Narendra Modi as the cynosure. It is also pinning its hopes on the extent of anti-incumbency the KCR Government may face. Though it is not a force to reckon with in Medak, the BJP intends to fill the perceived vacuum in the opposition space.

The Congress party is in disarray. It is in no mood to launch a virulent attack on KCR as it thinks that his honeymoon with Telangana people is not yet over. The Left is a non-entity in Medak. This political landscape is the first motivating factor for the BJP to enter the Medak fray with all the seriousness it can muster. However, there is a fundamental flaw in BJP’s calculation. The KCR Government is yet to incur the wrath of the people. In fact, political analysts even feel that KCR graph has improved after he has assumed Chief Minister’s office. Despite the confusion in the Congress camp, the main opposition is flexing its muscles. It is trying to field someone who has grassroots image as its candidate. In fact, the Congress DNA is such that it gets electrified only when election comes. Thus, the Medak by-election is an opportunity for the Congress to refuel. The BJP is perhaps underestimating the Congress and overestimating itself.

The BJP is often repeating the fact that it not only played a significant role in the Telangana JAC but its support was indispensable for the formation of new state. But, this promotion point did not cut ice with the Telangana electorate during the emotionally surcharged elections in May 2014. How can it show such a formidable impact in the by-elections so as to dislodge TRS from its stronghold like Medak? The electoral performance of BJP in Telangana was worse than the TDP in the last general elections.

Meanwhile, the BJP was caught on the wrong foot on many an occasion during the last three months. The strident position taken by the NDA government in Andhra Pradesh on many contentious issues and the dubious role of the BJP-led Central Government on many aspects that has an emotional impact on Telangana people added insult to the injury. The BJP would face embarrassment as Telangana Rashtra Samithi raises these issues in the run-up to the elections. The Modi government acted with unusual alacrity in amending the State Reorganisation Act, which is detrimental to the interests of Telangana. The BJP’s explanation that its Telangana State unit opposed the Polavaram Bill cannot convince the people. The argument that it was in fact implementing the decision of the UPA government is much more cynical. Telangana has failed to receive any political importance in Narendra Modi government. The state does not even get representation in the union cabinet. On the contrary, Andhra Pradesh has three members including someone who is not even a Member of Parliament. Both the Central Budget and the Railway Budget have done nothing to the state. The BJP has to confront all these questions from TRS in the electoral fray.

The BJP is also finalising its campaign strategy. The present indication is that the party may target the KCR Government. The party has already launched a tirade against KCR. It alleges that the KCR Government is resorting to a policy of minority appeasement. It refers to the possible alliance between TRS and MIM in Hyderabad. But, will this have any significant impact on voters in Medak? The Telangana state’s sensitive demographic composition is vulnerable for communal campaign. But, the state has not seen any major communal mobilisation as in Uttar Pradesh. KCR has not compromised with the fundamentalist forces like Akhilesh Yadav. The strategic political alliance of TRS with MIM, though not a healthy sign, may not offer BJP much ammunition in a place like Medak.

The BJP is likely to target KCR on the non-implementation on loan waiver on the ground. The party together with TDP in fact organised farmers’ protests in Medak that went violent too. But, the BJP-TDP government in Andhra Pradesh has already made a mockery of its promise of loan waiver. Thus, the BJP suffers from a credibility crisis on the loan waiver front. The Central Government is not ready to extend any help to the two Telugu states for implementation of loan waiver.

A strong rebuff from TRS leadership would corner BJP. The protracted power crisis in Telangana may perhaps be yet another campaign issue BJP would love to raise. But, KCR cannot be found fault for the power crisis as he came to power only three months back.

Thus the BJP campaign lacks substance. The media blitz cannot change the forces on the ground. The loud voices in the political debates may not actually fetch votes at the hustings. However, the Medak by-elections would certainly help BJP improve political visibility.

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