Hyderabad: The BJP’s victory in Huzurabad Assembly by-election and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao declaring a war on the saffron party has suddenly heated up politics in Telangana.
In an unprecedented move, Rao addressed two press conferences in as many days to slam the BJP, particularly its state leadership and the latter is citing this as the proof that it has emerged as the main opposition to ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
The Chief Minister launched a bitter attack on BJP on Sunday over the Centre’s refusal to lift paddy from the State in the coming Rabi season and the saffron party’s demand that Telangana government slash Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel like many other States.
The next day saw BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar launching a counter attack on KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known. But what surprised many is that a few hours later, the Chief Minister addressed another marathon press conference to go all out against BJP.
Making it clear that he will not leave the BJP leaders, KCR told media persons that he may call daily press conferences to expose BJP on every issue.
The TRS chief’s offensive baffled the political circles and it was seen as a reaction to the outcome in Huzurabad, where his close associate turned rival Eatala Rajender won the by-election as a candidate of the BJP, the party he joined after KCR dropped him from Cabinet on allegations of land grabbing.
Though KCR personally did not campaign in the bypoll, his party went all out to stop Rajender, who had been winning the seat as TRS candidate since 2009. Riding on Rajender’s popularity in the constituency, the BJP wrested the seat from TRS.
Political observers say the outcome has rattled KCR as Rajender’s win is likely to inspire other TRS dissidents to raise the banner of revolt. The BJP is also projecting the win in Huzurabad as reflection of anti-incumbency sentiment and affirmation of its emergence as the main opposition in the State.
By wresting two Assembly seats from TRS in year, the saffron party is likely to go for a kill to achieve its mission 2023 of coming to power in Telangana.
This may have prompted KCR to go on the offensive before the BJP further consolidate itself. He apparently turned the tables on the BJP, which was looking to politically capitalise on the unrest among farmers over the issue of paddy cultivation.
The TRS government had been asking farmers for the last few days not to go for paddy cultivation during the coming Rabi season as the Centre had refused to procure rice. When Bandi Sanjay urged farmers to go ahead with the paddy cultivation, KCR warned him against playing with the lives of farmers. “He speaks whatever he likes. We acted with restraint but now when he is trying to play with the lives of farmers, we can’t keep quiet,” said KCR.
The TRS chief, who often used to dismiss BJP as an insignificant force and rarely reacted to statements of its leaders, vented all the anger over the kind of language used by Bandi Sanjay while criticising him.
“How dare Bandi Sanjay say he will send me to jail. Let them dare touch me and we will show what TRS is capable of,” he said.
Not stopping at that, he slammed the BJP government at the Centre for repeatedly hiking the prices of petrol and diesel even when the price of crude oil in the international market was falling. He targeted the saffron party over the new farm legislations and for trying to “suppress” the agitation of farmers.
When Bandi Sanjay took exception to some remarks made by KCR on Chinese incursions in India and called him anti-national, the Chief Minister reacted sharply and immediately. He said for the last seven years, BJP’s practice has been to brand all its critics as traitors or urban naxals and use the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate (ED) against them.
KCR, however, made it clear that he was not afraid of them. “I am not scared as I am not a thief,” he said. He also asked BJP if he was not anti-national when they took his support for the election of the country’s President and for passing various Bills in Parliament.
The Chief Minister vowed to continue to fight against farm laws and till the Centre announced that it would procure paddy from Telangana on the lines of Punjab.
He also announced that TRS would hold protests in every village on November 12 demanding that the Centre procure paddy from the State in Rabi season. He also called on farmers to grill BJP leaders when they come to their villages.
Rejecting the BJP’s demand that the State government slash VAT on fuel, KCR said those who hiked the prices should roll it back. He also said he would not rest till the BJP government at the Centre withdraws the cess on petrol and diesel.
On Sunday, he had stated that he along with other TRS leaders would sit on a dharna in Delhi, demanding procurement of paddy from Telangana, withdrawal of three central farm laws and withdrawal of cess on petrol and diesel.
KCR also remarked that TRS did not come to power like BJP in some states through backdoor methods. “The BJP leaders only know to divide people on communal lines and instigate them. They play on sentiments of the people and create unrest to gain votes,” he said.