Confusion, Camaraderie, and Confidence Confound Telangana BJP
HYDERABAD: The throes of confusion that the BJP in Telangana is thrown into intensified all the more on Monday with a series of events that gave the party some hope of unity but at the same time left it in a tizzy. All this on a day the Union council of ministers met in New Delhi under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chairmanship amidst some speculation that there could be changes in the state party leadership.
In an effort to calm the waters, that is being stilled by a new development a day, Sunil Bansal, BJP general secretary in-charge of Telangana, is scheduled to visit the city on Tuesday. Officially, the visit is to evaluate how the party’s Maha Jan Sampark Abhiyan outreach programme is going on.
On Monday, there was enough to keep Telangana BJP leaders and workers wondering as to what was happening, when party MLA from Dubbak M. Raghunandan Rao suddenly made news in the afternoon over comments that left little to the imagination about where he stood on the Telangana BJP’s leadership issue.
Raghunandan Rao, who just a few days ago had made it clear that it was time his services to the party were recognised, and sought that he be either made the BJP floor leader in the Assembly or a national spokesperson, on Monday afternoon, reportedly added to the list his third choice, that of BJP state president in place of Bandi Sanjay Kumar who was, by some in the party circles, tipped to vacate his chair and join the Union Cabinet.
Raghunandan Rao, who was in Delhi on Monday, later in the evening denied that he had issued any such demand, and declared his loyalty to the party as one of its workers. He said he would yet again contest from Dubbak on a BJP ticket and win for the second time. But, in the few hours in between, his reported criticism of Sanjay’s leadership and alleged statement on the state BJP chief’s sudden rags to riches rise created furious waves in the party.
Incidentally, Sanjay too was in Delhi on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Etala Rajendar, party MLA from Huzurabad, and A.P. Jithender Reddy, former MP and BJP national executive member, who were at loggerheads just a couple of days ago over the state party leadership issue, joined for lunch in the presence of Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya at Reddy’s farmhouse, along with a few other party leaders who too have been vocal in either supporting Sanjay or are seen as rivals.
The luncheon gathering, reportedly organised at Dattatreya’s suggestion, ended well with Jithender Reddy quashing all rumours of differences and declaring that the party and all its leaders are united. Rajendar later went to a Maha Jan Sampark Abhiyan programme in Medak and into a role he slipped into with ease over the past few days as a party leader taking part with some enthusiasm in BJP events.
In New Delhi, Union minister G. Kishan Reddy, whose name was doing the rounds as the next possible BJP president in Telangana, addressing a press conference, laid into Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of the party during the Telangana Jana Garjana in Khammam, claiming that he was neither able to run his own party nor able to retain MLAs who won on its flag.
He said: “The Congress leadership is so weak and helpless that it could not even keep within its fold MLAs who won on its flag in Telangana.”
Kishan Reddy, speaking with reporters in New Delhi, said the Congress and the BRS were hand in glove, with a secret understanding, and declared that the BJP will never have a truck with the BRS. “The BRS and Congress, unable to digest the BJP’s growth, are working together to undermine the BJP,” he said.
The BJP, he said, “is not a B-Team for anyone, and the people of the state fully well know how the Central government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, has stood by Telangana. Those who claim that the BJP is finished in Telangana will realise that the truth is otherwise, four months from now.”
“The Congress is an expert at announcing schemes and turning them into scams. And who does not know how it joined BRS in Parliament to disrupt proceedings? Did the world not see Rahul Gandhi and BRS leader K. Keshava Rao sit together and discuss issues? No one has forgotten how the Congress-propped candidate for the President was given a royal reception in Hyderabad by the BRS government. Is this not enough to show who is the B-team of which party,” Kishan Reddy asked.
Recalling former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s observation that ‘Congress in Opposition is more dangerous than when in power’, Kishan Reddy said, “When in power, Congress leaders loot the nation and, when out of it, they divide society, undermine national unity, and create rifts between sections of society for political gains.”
“The Congress is a party that makes impossible promises just to come to power,” he said, referring to the Rs 4,000 pension promised in Telangana, and likening it to the BRS. “These two parties are two sides of the same coin,” he said.