The announcement of by-poll results across 13 states and one Union Territory on Tuesday (November 2) came as a rude wake-up call for the BJP. The party was humbled in Rajasthan, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh with the opposition parties seizing in on the lack of state leadership faces in the BJP camp. However, one of the few shining spots to come out of the bypolls was the victory of BJP leader Eatala Rajender, who won the Huzurabad assembly seat in Telangana for a seventh consecutive term.
The BJP leader defeated Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Gellu Srinivas Yadav by a margin of 23,855 votes. The magnitude of the victory has firmly reinforced the belief in the BJP state unit that Rajender has what it takes to bring CM K Chandrasekhar Rao down. Many tout Rajender as the ‘Himanta Biswa Sarma’ of Telangana who can cut KCR, his arch-nemesis to size.
Eatala Rajender – KCR’s arch-nemesis
Since the formation of Telangana in 2014, KCR has been the chief minister of the state and his authority and grip over the politics of the state has remained unchallenged, despite a growing list of corruption cases.
Eatala Rajender – known to be among the senior-most leaders of the pink party, quit the TRS in June earlier this year and also resigned as a member of the Legislative Assembly. Rajender was dropped by KCR as the state health minister following allegations of land encroachment being leveled against him. BJP sought this as an opportunity to woo the influential leader and snaffled him up in an instant.
KCR quashes dissent
Much like Congress and its aristocratic Gandhi family, KCR works in a dictatorial manner within the party, according to sources. He quashes dissent and does not allow the other new, up-and-coming stars to rise to the top. Rajender going the rogue way was the manifestation of KCR’s insecurity regarding his inability to hold sway over his partymen.
Reported by TFI, in the past, Rajender has not shied away from calling out KCR and his governance. The BJP, even before the entry of Rajender into the saffron camp, was faring very well in Telangana. Now, with him in its fold, the BJP’s rise in the state will only be further propelled- the bypoll victory being a case in point.
The party has proven its mettle in Telangana with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, in which the BJP was able to emerge as the second-largest player on a turf where it was considered a negligible force until recently.
Can Eatala repeat Himanta’s script?
The addition of Eatala Rajender was perhaps the only push needed by the saffron party to turn the tables on the TRS and its supremo. It was Himanta who was gifted to the BJP by Congress that changed the fortunes of the saffron party in the northeast.
Such has been the influence of Himanta that he is now the chief minister of Assam and is regarded as one of the few BJP leaders that have a separate and distinct personality, free from the towering stature of PM Modi.
If Eatala can continue to strengthen the state unit by making shrewd decisions and calculated risks, he could very well emulate what Himanta did in Assam. And if BJP wants to come to power in the state, it needs to follow the Assam script to the tee.