“Saffron strike” in Hyderabad

The BJP’s campaign on changing the name of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar and its attack on the K Chandrashekhar Rao led Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) government seems to be worked out well. The TRS won 55 seats and emerged as the single largest party in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Council (GHMC ), though its tally plunged from 99 seats in 2016. But the day belonged to BJP which won 48 wards, up from just four in the 2016 elections. The MIM retained most of its wards in its stronghold of seven Assembly segments including Charminar, Karwan and Chandrayanagutta which are part of the Lok Sabha constituency of party president Asaduddin Owaisi. The party had won more than 40 wards in 2010 and 2016 GHMC elections.
Analysts had expected that BJP State president Bandi Sanjay Kumar pushing an aggressive agenda during the GHMC poll campaign, threatening ‘surgical strikes’ on the Old City and bringing up the issue of Rohingya, Pakistani and Bangladeshi illegal immigrants, to prove counter-productive, but it seems to have clicked instead.
BJP drafted top vote-catchers like Union minister Amit Shah, who held a hugely successful roadshow in Secunderabad, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who ratcheted up the temperature as well as Bharatiya Jana Yuva Morcha president Tejsavi Surya, the BJP MP from South Bangalore.
 The TRS had planned to use its 34 ex officio members to get its mayor elected, if its tally fell to 75-plus seats. Since it has won only 55 wards, its only option is to enter into a post-poll alliance with the MIM and share the two posts.  The TRS now has an additional immediate problem of having to formally enter into some alliance or agreement with the MIM to resolve the impasse of the numbers of a hung municipal council. This will further give the BJP an additional benefit of having portrayed the TRS as a clandestine partner of the MIM. What surprised nobody is that the Congress party has been reduced to a big zero in its ability to impact the politics of the state. The results of GHMC elections will add momentum to the BJP’s drive, after the Dubbak byelection victory last month, to win power in the state elections. The saffron party laid the stepping stone to directly challenge the TRS for power in the 2023 Assembly elections.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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