With BJP’s Hindu card boosting its tally in Hyderabad, TRS faces tough task ahead in next assembly election

The dramatic improvement in the BJP’s position, with the party raising its tally of seats from four to 48, showed that its intensive campaigning had paid high dividends in the municipal elections<b></b>

TRS rally (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
TRS rally (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)

Amulya Ganguli/IPA

The renaming of Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar, as suggested by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, would have to be put on hold for the time being because the BJP failed to come out on top in the municipal elections despite faring exceedingly well.

The dramatic improvement in the BJP’s position, with the party raising its tally of seats from four to 48, showed that its intensive campaigning had paid high dividends. Now, it can look forward to winning the next assembly elections, as it has asserted.

Although the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) came out on top with 55 seats out of the 149 declared results, the 44-seat decline in its tally indicates that it came under considerable pressure from the BJP. The third major party in the fray, the All India Majlis-e-Ittahadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), has succeeded in maintaining its position with 44 seats, the same as on the last occasion.

The BJP seems to be on a roll. It dodged the anti-incumbency factor in Bihar by letting the axe fall on Nitish Kumar while the party emerged as the mainstay of the National Democratic Front. The only hiccup for the BJP was in losing the race for the largest number of seats to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which won 75 to the BJP’s 74.

However, the BJP is likely to interpret the Hyderabad outcome as yet another step towards becoming a major player in south India. The party is already in power in Karnataka and expects to perform satisfactorily in Tamil Nadu if it can rope in Rajinikanth although it will have to ditch the AIADMK in that case, especially in the event of Jayalalithaa’s former companion, Sasikala, returning to the political field.

What both the Bihar and Hyderabad results have shown is that it faces a serious challenge from influential regional outfits like the RJD, the TRS and the AIMIM. It will also be the same in West Bengal where the BJP’s main opponent will be the Trinamool Congress. In Tamil Nadu, too, it will be the DMK.

In making inroads in these states, the BJP has been banking on its standard divisive tactics with politicians like Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath and Tejashvi Surya unabashedly playing the Hindu card. While the Union Home Minister promised to put an end to the Nizam’s “culture” in Hyderabad and Adityanath wanted to know why the city’s Muslim name cannot be changed when Faizabad can become Ayodhya and Allahabad Prayagraj, Tejashvi Surya had no hesitation in describing the AIMIM leader, Asaduddin Owaisi, as “Jinnah”.

It goes without saying that an anti-Muslim stance will be the basis of the BJP’s campaign in the forthcoming elections in West Bengal, Assam and Tamil Nadu. Even if the party claims that development is its main plank, in reality it focuses on exploiting the seemingly deep-rooted anti-Muslim bias among large sections of the Hindu middle class.

There is little doubt that the BJP’s continuing success is largely due to this tactics with measures like “love jihad” and cow slaughter being used to garner support. In addition, there is also the party’s nationalistic card with references to the surgical strikes against the terrorist camps in Pakistan which helps the party to consolidate its support base irrespective of whether the contest is at the national or the state or the municipal level. For the BJP, bent on ruling from panchayats to parliament, as Amit Shah once asserted, all the elections are important.

A combination of the Hindu and the nationalistic cards along with welfare measure like houses with toilets, subsidized cooking gas, regular electric supply, et al, have enabled the BJP to divert attention from any failures on the economic or social fronts. Neither a looming recession nor the gang rape of a Dalit girl allegedly by upper caste men stops the party from winning elections.

However, there have been a few setbacks for the BJP at the time of Its Hyderabad success, notably in the legislative council elections in Nagpur, the home of the RSS, in Pune, long known as a saffron redoubt, and in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. All may not be lost, therefore, for the BJP’s opponents.

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