Five Themes To Remember About BJP's Telangana Success

Sharan Setty

Jun 08, 2024, 08:00 AM | Updated 11:43 AM IST

L to R: Arvind Dharmapuri, Kishan Reddy, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Etela Rajender and K Vishweshwar Reddy.
L to R: Arvind Dharmapuri, Kishan Reddy, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Etela Rajender and K Vishweshwar Reddy.

From having national ambitions just a couple of years ago, the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) has come down to winning zero seats in the recently-concluded general elections in Telangana.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had a modest start in 2014, the party was hit by infighting, too many power centres and disunity until last year. While leaders like Bandi Sanjay Kumar enjoy popular support among the masses, there existed a feeling among the cadre that they have been sidelined to make way for other favourites who New Delhi prefers.

But one thing that surprised everyone, including the BJP was its performance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. It ended up winning eight seats, doubling its 2019 numbers.

These are the things one needs to note, as the party will aim to expand its footprint and possibly try and win the next assembly elections in the state:

One, the BJP's Hindutva politics seems to be paying off for the party in certain pockets where there is a high concentration of minority votes. Coupled with the anger against appeasement and freebie politics by the Congress and the erstwhile BRS government, the BJP's rise in the state makes complete sense as there is a strong undercurrent for nationalism and growth.

Two, new faces are being created. Leadership is being slowly groomed in the state, and that is a good sign for the BJP, as they also consistently improve the vote share. In this election alone, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Etela Rajender (once a close aide of K Chandrashekar Rao), Arvind Dharmapuri, G Kishan Reddy and Raghunandan Rao have made an impact.

With Madhavi Latha and Raja Singh's rise in state politics, the BJP team may have multiple faces before the next assembly elections.

Three, the BJP may have to improve its performance in Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe pockets in the state. While the OBC outreach has yielded some results for the party, the performance this time shows that a majority of the SC/ST seats went to the Congress — Peddapalli (SC), Nagarkurnool (SC), Warangal (SC) and Mahabubabad (ST).

Four, the BJP has been doing well even in urban pockets, and this came to the forefront when they beat their opposition (to their own surprise) in the Greater Hyderabad municipal elections in 2020.

While they may have made inroads into northern Telangana, there's a lot of work to be done in the southern pockets, especially Nagarkurnool, Nalgonda, Bhongir, Khammam and Warangal. Just open the ECI website and look at the margin of south Telangana loss; that will tell you a whole new story.

Five, the BJP will have to introduce a new brand of politics that will not only continue the growth story for the state beyond Hyderabad and its IT corridors but also counter sharp polarisation, minority appeasement and the freebie culture.

They have managed to tackle this successfully (during assembly elections) in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. If there are examples to be emulated, then the state unit must introspect and create new narratives supporting those ideas. Hindutva can only help so far during a local election.

Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.

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