Long before any results emerged today from the counting of ballot papers in the Hyderabad municipal election, leaders of the BJP started posting congratulatory tweets.
The celebrations may have been premature but the BJP has indeed made gains in Hyderabad
Early trends emerging from Hyderabad indicate a change in popular mood & shape of things to come.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 4, 2020
We have found our foothold n making a deep impact in South India. Victory in Hyderabad is a proof to that. And let me assure you, #TN is not far. #2021elections we will make a grand entry into TN. Continue to believe in @narendramodi ji and his clean govt. @BJP4India@blsanthosh
— KhushbuSundar (@khushsundar) December 4, 2020
The party has managed to establish itself firmly in the Opposition seat, as the party challenging the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and emerging as a big force, an alternative to the ruling party.
If not now, at least in 2023, the BJP can hope to ride on the anti-incumbency of six years of TRS rule. The party can be seen as a viable alternative to the TRS.
The Congress did not put up a spirited fight. Contrast it with the BJP, which flew in every top leader for its campaign. Not a single Congress leader visited Telangana to push the party’s chances or talk on its behalf even as a serious contender.
A top leader told NDTV that the worry was that the original TDP vote in Hyderabad seem to have shifted to the BJP.
The BJP cadre is also enthused with the party leadership sending all signals that they consider Telangana important for their plans.
That is why Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call to his party’s Bandi Sanjay, a corporator who rose to be MP and then state chief, after the elections, is significant. That was a morale-boosting call, congratulating the state BJP on good work done and reassuring them that the central leadership will go all-out to back the state unit. It was once again a signal that the BJP is taking Telangana seriously.
This is part of the BJP’s strategy to go aggressive in the south and work on Telangana as its second gateway to the south after Karnataka.
Three, the BJP was also testing waters. By targeting Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, the party attempted to polarise voters beyond the Old city of Hyderabad. The BJP’s strategists hope to also dent TRS and Congress votes.
It now appears that the TRS will emerge as the single largest party in the municipal election. They may not need the support of the AIMIM to win the mayor’s post. If they did, even then the BJP can tell people: “We told you so”. As Amit Shah put it: “They do ILU, ILU (I Love You) behind closed doors”. That can become another arsenal for the 2023 polls.
The BJP’s countdown to the Telangana polls has begun. The party already has four MPs after last year’s national election. This, just months after the 2018 state election in which the BJP won only one of Telangana’s 119 seats. After the recent Dubbak assembly by-polls, that score went to two.
The party is likely to now focus on the Nagarjunasagar constituency, where sitting MLA Nomula Narsimha just died.
Many see the possibility of the politically powerful Reddy caste now veering towards the BJP as the Congress, is a much-weakened force.
Disgruntled elements in the TRS as also leaders who don’t see a future for the Congress, would move to the BJP that has presented itself as a strong contender for power in the next election in Telangana.