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Last Updated : Jun 17, 2019 09:37 AM IST | Source: Hindustan Times

BJP hints at defections from Congress, TDP in Telangana

The BJP surprised its rivals by winning four of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana. It secured 19.5 percent votes -- the highest ever in the southern state

Hindustan Times @moneycontrolcom

More than a dozen leaders of the Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana are likely to cross over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the next couple of months, three leaders of the saffron party claim.

"We got a good start in Telangana. Like West Bengal and Odisha for 2019 election, we will turn our focus to Telangana for 2024," one of the leaders said.

The BJP surprised its rivals by winning four of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana. It secured 19.5% votes — the highest ever in the southern state.


The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi secured nine seats, the Congress three and Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen one.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had an alliance with the Congress for the 2018 assembly election in Telangana and it fielded candidates in 13 seats, but polled just 3.5% votes. The party, however, did not contest the parliamentary election in Telangana, and the BJP sees this as an opportunity to win over its support base among the Kamma community (which TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu belongs to).

"More than a dozen senior leaders of the Congress and the TDP will join the BJP in next couple of months...Just as in Bengal where rival Trinamool and Congress leaders added power to the BJP, we will induct leaders from rival parties to gain presence in areas where the party is weak," the second leader said.

The BJP had won just one out of 119 assembly seats in last year's assembly election and polled a meagre 7% vote. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, the party's in-charge for north Telangana, prepared an action plan that focused on projection of leaders from the influential Reddy community and other backward classes (OBCs), the leader added.

Reddys are considered the traditional rivals of Velamas, the community to which chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao belongs, and the BJP was successful in winning over the former in north Telangana.

Ahead of the general election, the BJP inducted senior Reddy leaders such as Mahbubnagar member of Parliament AP Jithender Reddy, former minister DK Aruna who fought the 2018 assembly election on Congress ticket, Congress MLA Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy and OBC leaders such as Arvind Dharmapuri, the son of sitting TRS MP D Srinivas. Prominent tribal leader Soyam Bapu Rao, who had been with the Congress and the TRS in the past, was also roped in and given ticket from Adilabad.

Rao and Dharampuri won the election while Aruna lost by 77,289 votes. "This strategy of putting money on Reddys and OBCs worked for the BJP and it won three seats of north Telangana and one in Secunderabad," the third leader said. Secunderabad parliamentarian G Kishan Reddy is now a junior minister in the home ministry.

"We are trying to weave a combination of the Reddy and OBC communities in Telangana. If we are able to create it, then the BJP can win 2023 assembly election," the third leader said.

"We are number 3 party in Telangana today, and with the Congress' failure to emerge as a credible opposition to the TRS, there is a space for the BJP to fill that vacuum. We are working towards that," Telangana BJP chief K Laxman said. "...with Congress' decline, BJP rose in the parliamentary election," he added.

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First Published on Jun 17, 2019 09:34 am
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