Gone are the days when BJP’s influence and stronghold was said to exist only over the Hindi heartland states. If this election has proven anything, it is BJP’s ability to maintain their 2014 hold over the Hindi speaking states and successfully expand to others, where regional parties have dominated traditionally. Their unprecedented increase from 1 to 4 seats in Telangana, despite the presence of regional TRS, has been one of the major indications to this. BJP’s performance in Telangana cannot be dismissed as mere ‘fluke’, as one opposition leader has claimed. It was a result of a brilliant strategy and flawless execution. In non-BJP strongholds, the party works on a simple and yet effective objective. The objective is to become the main opposition party.
In order to become the main opposition in the state, BJP had adopted a two prolonged strategy, which includes strengthening the booth level organization and attracting influential local leaders from other parties.
Now, as part of its strategy to strengthen the booth level organization of the party, BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit Telangana once every month from August onwards. Apart from him, two Union ministers would visit the state every month to oversee the implementation of central government schemes. A few weeks ago, Amit Shah had also launched BJP’s membership drive in Telangana, with a target to double the party’s membership from current 18 lakhs.
Commenting on the strategy, Union minister G Kishan Reddy from Telangana stated, “This is the best time for BJP to grow in Telangana — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With Congress weakening in Telangana and anti-incumbency across the state, there is a space for the opposition that we would like to occupy straight away.”
In December assembly elections, BJP could win only one seat out of 117 with a vote share of just 7%, which has jumped to 20% within four months. A BJP secretary stated, “In states where we are weak, our target is to win at least 20% vote share. Once we reach that level, we grow in leaps and bounds.”
The Telangana Lok Sabha results have been indicative that BJP’s hold over the state is increasing and Amit Shah’s decision to visit the state every month is further going to increase BJP’s popularity. It is not just 4 seats that have been won from the state; it is what the seats represent. Dethroning KCR’s daughter, Kalvakuntla Kavitha, from her Nizamabad constituency had been the highlight of the elections in the state, even when she had done everything in her power to retain the seat. BJP’s second scalp in the state was Karimnagar, which used to be KCR’s seat during his days in Lok Sabha. Highly confident of TRS’ victory in the constituency, KCR had declared Karimnagar candidate B Vinod Kumar, a possible Union Minister in case the ‘Federal Front’ came to power. In Adilabad, the third BJP victory, all the seven assembly segments in the constituency belonged to TRS and yet they suffered a massive loss, coming third. Secunderabad, the 4th seat in which BJP had performed outstandingly well, had been won by BJP in 2014 and the party had been sure to retain it.
Apart from this, several prominent Telangana leaders from Congress and TRS have defected from their parties and joined the BJP. Among the senior faces, Soyam Bapu Rao, a Congress dissident who had entered the BJP fray ahead of the elections, had won the party the Adilabad seat. Congress leaders including Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu, D K Aruna and Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy had also joined the saffron party. Apart from Congress, even TRS leaders including A P Jithender Reddy had joined the BJP ahead of the elections. These leaders have increased BJP’s popularity amongst the people and has brought along their support base as well.
This same strategy was applied by BJP in West Bengal as well, and the election results showing BJP’s phenomenal increase in the seat tally from 2 to 18 in the traditional TMC dominated state, indicates the effectiveness of the strategy. Amit Shah has personally taken it upon himself to see that the BJP increases its hold over the state and KCR needs to beware. The regional parties in the country traditionally consider themselves to be invincible and are overly confident of their hold on their respective states. However, Amit Shah is all set to break this circle in Telangana, as ultimately, it is the electorate which has the power, which has swayed towards the party promising development and welfare in the state.