Hyderabad: BJP national president Amit Shah’s three-day visit to Telangana, starting from May 22, is a matter of debate among all political parties, including his own. Politicians of all hues are trying to figure out whether the purpose of the visit is to target and weaken the ruling TRS or the main Opposition party, the Congress.
The visit of any political party leader is usually to strengthen and expand the party base. But Amit Shah choosing Nalgonda district, which is considered a Congress bastion, has led to speculation that it is the Congress that is the target.
The BJP national president was earlier to visit only Hyderabad, from where the MIM has been winning since 1984. But now, two-and-a-half days are to be devoted Nalgonda and only half-a-day to Hyderabad.
Nalgonda district is predominantly a Congress district, especially the Nalgonda Lok Sabha segment from where five Congressmen and one from their ally, the CPI, got elected from six out of seven Assembly constituencies in 2014.
When the BJP announced that it is confident of coming to power in the state in 2019, and it is the only political alternative to the ruling TRS, political pundits expected the party’s national president to take on the TRS in the North Telangana districts where the ruling party claims almost 100 per cent political dominance.
The BJP has held a few Lok Sabha segments in North Telangana previously, such as Karimnagar and Hanamkonda, but Amit Shah is not visiting these areas to strengthen his party there.
The answer to this puzzle could lie in the cordial relations that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has been cultivating with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last few months.
He was the only non-BJP Chief Minister to support the demonetisation move, and the Prime Minister twice consulted Mr Chandrasekhar Rao when he visited the state. Mr Chandrasekhar Rao has praised the Modi government’s performance as corruption free and recently had a one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister in Delhi.
He has also reportedly extended his full support to any BJP-backed Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate.
Though the details of the Delhi meeting with the Prime Minister are not known, a few days later the Central government approved the Telangana Land Amendment Act in record time. It has also approved handing over Parade Ground and other Cantonment lands to the Telangana state government that were specifically sought by the Chief Minister.
Officials in the TRS government say they don’t have any problems with the implementation of the AP Reorganisation Act and the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues have stopped being critical of the Central government and the BJP, except for one instance: a senior minister who was critical of the Central government’s role in the chilli price issue had taken permission from the Chief Minister for the ‘verbal attack’.
In the light of these increased friendly relation between the TRS and the BJP, the reason behind Amit Shah’s choice of Nalgonda district makes a little more sense. The Congress is the main rival of the TRS in Telangana, and of the BJP at the national level. It is in the interests of both these parties to finish off the Congress in the state so that only they two will flourish. Or, maybe, it is just a temporary understanding between the TRS and BJP till the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections are over.