Who Is T. Raja Singh And What Is His Role In Telangana Politics?

by Swarajya Staff - Aug 26, 2022 02:24 PM +05:30 IST
Who Is T. Raja Singh And What Is His Role In Telangana Politics? BJP MLA Raja Singh leading a bike rally (via Twitter)
Snapshot
  • Goshamahal MLA, T. Raja Singh, was arrested for the second time within a week on 25 August, for an allegedly 'blasphemous' video.

    Here is a short profile of the leader, and a discussion of his position in Telangana politics.

Since Monday (22 August), the Muslim-dominated areas of Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana have experienced high tension. Visuals of Muslim mobs mouthing "Sar Tan Se Juda" slogans and demanding Goshamahal MLA T. Raja Singh's beheading and arrest have emerged.

The Telangana state government is on alert, keeping in mind the Friday prayer congregations by Muslims.

On Monday, BJP MLA, T. Raja Singh, released a video criticising stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who has in the past mocked Hindu Gods and Goddesses. (Faruqui was recently in Hyderabad for a show that was held amid tight security provided by the state government).

Raja Singh is accused of making 'blasphemous' comments against Islam in the same video.

Several people belonging to the Muslim community staged protests in various parts of Hyderabad since Monday night, demanding Singh's hanging or beheading.

Many All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) legislators and corporators of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation reached the police stations, where protests were held and sought stringent action against Raja Singh.

AIMIM, which is a friendly party to the ruling TRS regime, has submitted expulsion proceedings against T Raja Singh to the Speaker's office.

The party's head, Asaduddin Owaisi, has also been involved in getting Muslim youth, detained for chanting beheading slogans against Singh, released.

T Raja Singh: A profile

Thakur Raja Singh Lodh was born on 15 April 1978 in Dhoolpet, Hyderabad. Hailing from an economically backward family, T Raja Singh did not complete his schooling but was associated with Hindu organisations in his locality from his early days.

He was associated with the RSS and Bajrang Dal before taking the political plunge by winning as corporator in the Hyderabad municipal corporation from N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Even in TDP, he actively participated and encouraged Hindu activism in Hyderabad. In fact, some Hindu monks had crowned Raja Singh as Hindu Hrudaya Samrat in January 2013, when the controversial leader was yet to join BJP.

T Raja Singh joined BJP in July 2013 and contested from the Goshamahal constituency in the 2014 Telangana Assembly elections. He was among five BJP MLAs in the first legislative assembly of Telangana.

With his accessibility to his constituents and uncompromising Hindutva stand, Raja Singh has emerged as the favourite in his constituency and the sole MLA for the BJP in the 2018 assembly elections.

T Raja Singh's hold on his constituency can be estimated by the fact that he won that segment despite a pro-TRS wave in 2018 when the BJP lost deposits in over 100 assembly segments among 119 constituencies in Telangana.

Raja Singh created an image for himself through his on-ground activism, particularly against cow smuggling around Hyderabad.

He also organised mass recitations of Hanuman Chalisa and built a massive 51-feet tall Hanuman murthi on a hillock in the Muslim-dominated old city of Hyderabad.

Also, the support Raja Singh garnered among the youth of Hyderabad can be seen in his massive rallies during Hanuman Jayanti and Sri Rama Navmi.

Raja Singh has also used social media to his advantage, with a popular YouTube channel and an army of volunteers supporting him. His Youtube channel 'Shree Ram Channel Telangana' has 3.7 lakh subscribers.

The remarks he made after his release from the last arrest, saying that more than the party (BJP) protecting Dharma is crucial for him, sums up the political image Raja Singh has built in the last decade.

Raja Singh leading 2018 Ram Navami shobha yatra in Hyderabad (via Twitter)
Raja Singh leading 2018 Ram Navami shobha yatra in Hyderabad (via Twitter)

Raja Singh's place in Telangana politics

Raja Singh is popular among the state's Hindus with Hindutva consciousness. But his reach does not go beyond this section, which is more concentrated in the capital Hyderabad.

Also, Raja Singh is seen as unsettled in political circles. As if giving an example of this argument, Raja Singh had resigned from the BJP in 2018, citing a lack of support from the party for his causes, like cow protection.

Though BJP had rejected his resignation, the act did little to bolster Singh's image as a reliable and predictable member of a party.

Hailing from a north-Indian family that settled in Hyderabad, Raja Singh is not entirely proficient in Telugu either.

His inability to take along other leaders, limited reach among voters beyond the old city of Hyderabad, sudden and controversial outbursts, and lack of an agenda beyond Hindutva limits Raja Singh's ability to emerge as a state-wide leader for the BJP.

Raja Singh with UP CM Yogi Adityanath during 2018 assembly elections campaign in Goshamahal, Hyderabad (via Twitter)
Raja Singh with UP CM Yogi Adityanath during 2018 assembly elections campaign in Goshamahal, Hyderabad (via Twitter)

BJP's place in Telangana politics

BJP sees Telangana as its next objective in southern India.

Four MP wins in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, win in Dubbaka by-election, massive rise in Hyderabad municipal election and a huge victory in Huzurabad by-election, despite the all-out efforts by CM KCR to limit the BJP, has consolidated the latter's position as an alternative to the TRS.

These wins helped BJP to emerge stronger in Hyderabad and northern Telangana.

Southern Telangana is still dominated by the ruling TRS and the Congress party. It is here that the Munugode by-election becomes important.

In Telangana, many leaders from both TRS and Congress have joined the BJP. A recent entry was of Congress MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy. He, along with his brother and Congress MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, has considerable influence on the erstwhile Nalgonda district in southern Telangana.

The resignation of Rajagopal Reddy paved the way for another by-election in the state. By winning Munugode, BJP aims to diminish Congress and emerge as the only alternative to TRS.

On the other hand, TRS plans to wrest this seat and signal to its cadre that it is still the most popular party of Telangana. Also, TRS winning Munugode may deter any further defections to BJP.

The importance given to this by-election can be understood from the fact that both CM KCR and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have already addressed huge rallies in Munugode.

Home Minister Amit Shah and Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy at BJP's massive rally in Munugode (via Twitter)
Home Minister Amit Shah and Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy at BJP's massive rally in Munugode (via Twitter)

Impact of latest controversy by Raja Singh

In this context, Raja Singh's remarks and the resultant protests by Muslims have attracted media and public attention in the state for the last three days.

BJP, probably wanting to avoid the controversy that erupted in the Nupur Sharma case, which had certain diplomatic ramifications, has taken swift action against Raja Singh.

However, while the party has suspended Raja Singh, its cadre and Hindu activists, like Swami Paripoornananda, a popular Hindu guru in Telugu states, are extending their support to the Goshamahal MLA.

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