The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is contesting solo in Telangana, is lining up its national top brass for public meetings mostly in constituencies with a sizeable Muslim population, a strategy that its opponents say is aimed at polarising non-Muslim votes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah, union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani, and chief ministers Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh, Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh and Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra are among the top BJP leaders scheduled to visit the state ahead of the December 7 polls.
The national leadership is expected to focus on issues such as opposing reservations to Muslims and promising to celebrate September 17, the day the Telangana region was liberated from the Nizam’s rule in 1948, as the Telangana Liberation Day, apart from opposing the pro-minority policies of the state’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
BJP president Shah has already launched an attack on the TRS for what he called its minority-appeasement politics, and made it clear that his party wouldn’t allow reservations to Muslim minorities that the TRS had proposed.
Muslims account for nearly 12.5% of Telangana’s population and act as the deciding factor in at least 42 out of its 119 assembly constituencies, said Syed Aminul Hasan Jafri, a member of the legislative council and spokesperson of the All India Majlis E Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). “While 24 assembly constituencies falling under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have a Muslim population of around 30%, there are another 18 assembly constituencies in other parts of Telangana that have a Muslim population ranging from 10-15%.”
Having entered into a friendly alliance with the ruling TRS without any formal seat sharing, AIMIM, which is contesting from eight constituencies in the GHMC region, was appealing to the Muslim voters across the state to support the TRS given its pro-minority initiatives, including the proposed reservations, he said. “We would like to ensure that the TRS wins in all the five assembly constituencies now being represented by the BJP in the GHMC region.”
Jafri said the strategy of the saffron party was very clear. “BJP desperately needs to make its presence felt in the Telangana assembly elections, keeping an eye on the ensuing Lok Sabha elections in 2019. They are banking on the politics of polarisation by whipping up a communal frenzy and attempting to revive the Hindutva communal vote bank by targeting the Muslim reservations and September 17.”
Refuting the allegation that the BJP was focussing on the assembly constituencies with sizeable Muslim population for politics of polarisation, its Telangana chief spokesperson Krishna, Saagar Rao, said: “Obviously, the opponents will try to find a pattern in the constituencies being addressed by our top national leaders. We are trying to ensure that most of our key leaders are campaigning in this election and have scheduled the rallies and meetings based on the need of the candidates. We are against appeasement of any form and certainly when we have an opponent (TRS) into brazen appeasement, we are attacking and cornering and telling that it is unconstitutional and illegal. Obviously, it is our plank and we will operate from that plank.”
Saffron brigade’s Telangana tour:
– Narendra Modi at Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar on Nov 27
– Amit Shah at Adilabad, Munugodu, LB Nagar on Nov 28
– Sushma Swaraj at Medchal on Nov 28
– Rajnath Singh at Nagarkurnool, Vanaparthi, Maheshwaram, Malakpet on Nov 29
– Smriti Irani at Dichpalli, Ellareddy, Zaheerabad, Goshamahal on Nov 29
– Rajnath Singh at Sirpur, Choppadandi, Nagarjuna Sagar, Secunderabad on Nov 30
– Smriti Irani at Manakondur, Shadnagar on Nov 30
– Raman Singh at Bhadrachalam, Medak on Dec 1
– Amit Shah at Narayanpet, Kalvakurthy, Malkajigiri, Kamareddy on Dec 2
– Yogi Adityanath at Bhupalpally, Mudhol, Bodhan, Thandoor, Sangareddy on Dec 2
– Nitin Gadkari at Uppal, Manchiryal, Suryapet, Kolhapur on Dec 2
– Narendra Modi at Hyderabad on Dec 3
– Devendra Fadnavis at Makkal, Jukkal, Vemulawada, Malkajigiri on Dec 4
– Yogi Adityanath at Karimnagar, Warangal, Goshamahal on Dec 5#KhabarLive