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GHMC Results: Time for TRS to listen to people & learn from its lessons

Though the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has retained its position in the lead in the GHMC Elections, the results of such high-voltage polling are a clear indication that the BJP is targeting  Telangana’s 2023 Assembly polls as its next goal.
 
With the 2018 Assembly elections and the subsequent Lok Sabha Elections in 2019, the BJP opened its account in Telangana (with 2 Assembly seats and 4 Lok Sabha seats). During this time, its voteshare increased from 7% in Assembly elections to around 20% in Lok Sabha elections, clearly indicating its growth in the state. 
 
With the GHMC results, the vote share of BJP in Telangana has gone further up to 35.5% while TRS’ vote share stands at 35.81%. This drastic increase in BJP’s voteshare is a reflection of its growing cadre in the state. This also proves that the TRS needs to be careful and watchful of the BJP’s growth.
 
During the GHMC Poll Campaign, the BJP used its Bihar strategy with a target of around 30-35 seats, along with the prestigious Mayor post. Their point of target was TRS-MIM alliance and their message was: “If Muslims in Bihar have voted for MIM, then Hindus in Hyderabad can vote for BJP.” Its aim was to be the MIM of Hyderabad and it has breached its expected number, equalling its strength to that of MIM. This means that their strategy of Hindus Vs. Muslims for Hyderabad definitely worked. 
 
These civic polls also proved that religion has a stronger voter affinity than regional sentiment. During the Poll Campaign, MIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi made a statement, hurting the sentiments of Telugu people by taking a dig at former PM P.V. Narasimha Rao and former CM of AP, Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao. 
 
In retaliation, the BJP brought up a surgical strike statement against Rohingyas in Hyderabad and warned the MIM. Until then, the election looked like a mere civic poll. But, after these statements, the whole narrative changed to religious propaganda and provocation. 
 
Cashing in on this, the TRS began selling its message showing MIM and BJP being hand-in-glove and as a threat to peace and security of the state. However, despite BJP’s promises being totally absurd — either on paying challans of youngsters or giving anything a family lost during the floods, that did not have much effect on the voters. All the religious propaganda on the whole actually benefited the party.
 
How TRS itself is responsible for BJP’s growth
 
By creating an image of the TDP and the Congress as anti-Telangana parties, TRS successfully managed to end these parties’ dominance post bifurcation. 
 
The fact that there are hardly any seats for TDP or Congress currently, is an indication that there was a place for an alternative that could emerge as an Opposition to TRS. If TRS let TDP and Congress fight it out and if the fight remained between the three parties, BJP wouldn’t have had so much space to conquer as it does, right now.
 
Moreover, by attracting defecting MLAs from both these parties and its friendship with MIM and favouring the Muslim community openly through its 12% reservations and 100% subsidy schemes for minorities, the TRS has created a space for the BJP to bring in religion in a land that has simmered with regional sentiment. 
 
The anti-incumbency in a way benefitted BJP to an extent while MIM retained its ground by giving an equal fight. However, TDP and Congress mostly remain irrelevant due to lack of leadership motivation to its cadre. 
 
This election clearly has boosted BJP’s confidence in the South where it is looking for an entry point. The TRS needs to learn from its mistakes and focus on fulfilling its promises given that it still has three years before the next assembly elections.  
 
On the other hand, the BJP needs to understand that it cannot sell religion for long in the South, which is comparatively progressive than other regions of India. So, the saffron party too needs to focus on a development-driven agenda and not just provocative politics. 
 
BJP’s growth: A warning for Andhra Pradesh
 
What is happening in Telangana is a clear warning sign for Andhra Pradesh. The YSRCP is doing a similar stunt with the Opposition.  And, with conversions rampant in the neighbouring state, the BJP will use both these reasons as an ample opportunity to enter AP. 
 
With temple attack incidents already rocking Andhra Pradesh and  putting the current government in a bad light, YSRCP needs to be aware of the dangers of the BJP’s entry while it continues to belittle TDP and weaken it.
 
Going by the BJP’s agenda it is clear that the saffron party uses its allies which win absolute majority in states and then slowly enters the state as the Opposition is already weak in these respective states. This way it can fulfil its Akhand Bharat goal. 
 
Currently, BJP is already targeting Bengal and Tamil Naidu in the 2021 elections. And, come 2023 and 2024, Telugu states will surely be on BJP’s saffronisation agenda. This dangerous trend is not only an indication that Cooperative Federalism may not survive in future but is also a death knell for regional parties

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