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Telangana pride may take centre stage in intense poll battle ahead

Hyderabad, Oct 22 (IANS) Telangana pride appears to be taking centre stage of the electoral battle in the state with the ruling BRS looking to once again bank on the sentiment.

With the Congress and the BJP launching scathing attacks on BRS mainly over family rule and alleged corruption, the ruling party is hitting back at the national parties for what it calls insulting Telangana’s self-respect.

Aiming for a hat-trick the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is against invoking Telangana sentiment to counter the national parties.

The war of words between the Congress and BRS leaders during the last few days clearly hints that the latter will leverage the Telangana self-respect issue to reap electoral dividends

BRS leaders are trying to draw home the point that as a party, which came into existence to fight for statehood to Telangana, BRS alone can be the true vanguard of the state’s interests. They argue “Delhi and Gujarat ‘gulams’ can’t do justice to Telangana”.

Taking offence to the remarks made by both BJP and Congress leaders, the BRS is launching a counter-attack.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi says one Gujarati (Sardar Patel) liberated Telangana from Nizam’s rule while another Gujarati will liberate it from tyrannical rule of KCR. This is definitely an onslaught on the self-respect of Telangana,” said BRS working president K.T. Rama Rao.

KTR, as Rama Rao is popularly known, also took a dig at state Congress president A. Revanth Reddy for his remark that if Congress leader Sonia Gandhi “had not delivered Telangana state, KCR would have been begging at Birla temple or Nampally dargah”.

“The gulams of Delhi and Gujarat want to rule Telangana,” said KTR, who is the son of Chief Minister KCR. Recalling that Telangana’s self-respect was of oof the important tenets of the Telangana movement, he made it clear that BRS would not allow “this insult”.

KCR’s daughter and BRS MLC K. Kavitha termed the Telangana Assembly elections a fight between the Telangana detractors and those whose hearts beat for Telangana.

She was reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s remark describing the Assembly elections as a fight between ‘Dorala Telangana and Prajala Telangana’ (feudal’s Telangana and people’s Telangana).

“Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have no right to speak about Telangana which was achieved after a long struggle and now stands tall in the country,” said Kavitha

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi together launched the Congress party’s campaign on October 18 with a fierce attack on KCR and his family. They recalled that it was their mother Sonia Gandhi who fulfilled the long-cherished dream of the people of Telangana by giving them Telangana state. They claimed she did not care about the political damage the party was to suffer because of that decision.

The BRS leaders responded to this by arguing that Sonia Gandhi “had to bow before the people’s movement”. They also alleged that she delayed the formation of the state for four years after making an announcement in 2009.

The BRS leaders also blame Congress for the suicides of many youths during this period and the loss of lives during the earlier phase of the Telangana movement.

After missing power twice despite claiming credit for carving out Telangana state, the Congress is making a determined bid this time with a slew of promises under ‘six guarantees’.

Buoyed by the recent victory in Karnataka, Congress is seeking a chance in Telangana. It is promising to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Telangana. “This is not the Telangana for which people had made sacrifices,” Rahul Gandhi said at a public meeting.

The BJP is also fighting the polls on a similar narrative by targeting KCR for failing to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Telangana. Both the national parties are slamming KCR over family rule and alleged corruption.

In 2014, emotion was high in the newly created state while KCR-led TRS (now BRS) sought the mandate to rebuild Telangana. The TRS had given a call to protect the state from the rule of parties belonging to Andhra Pradesh (TDP and YSRCP) and also parties which rule from Delhi (Congress and BJP).

The TRS sought a fresh mandate in 2018 on the basis of its performance and with a promise to continue its work to build ‘Bangaru Telangana’ or golden Telangana. Telangana sentiment was still strong with TDP making a determined bid to capture power in alliance with the Congress and other parties.

When KCR changed TRS to BRS late last year to expand the party to other states, many thought that Telangana identity would take a backseat and it may not be an election issue.

However, the party appears to be invoking the Telangana self-respect issue to bunk the anti-incumbency. The party has always projected itself as the voice of the people of Telangana. Its leaders often say while Congress and BJP have their high command in Delhi, their party’s high command is the people of Telangana.

KCR, who revived the Telangana movement in 2001 by floating TRS, carefully built his image and that of his party as the champion of Telangana, focusing on the unique cultural identity of the state and creating strong symbols of Telangana pride like the state secretariat and Telangana martyrs’ memorial.

KCR and other leaders of the party always cautioned people against the attempts by Andhra rulers to indirectly take control of Telangana.

This time TDP’s presence in the elections is likely to be subdued as its national president and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu remained in jail in Andhra Pradesh for more than a month in a corruption case and is facing investigations in a couple of other cases.

However, the presence of YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) Y.S. Sharmila and the possible campaigning by actor and Jana Sena leader Pawan Kalyan may provide ammunition to the BRS. The party leaders say both the leaders were opposed to the formation of Telangana.

Sharmila, whose party is going alone after talks for a merger with Congress failed, is the daughter of late Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy. The BRS leaders say YSR was against the creation of Telangana state.

Pawan Kalyan’s party is keen to contest 32 seats out of 119 assembly seats in Telangana. It is still unclear if Jana Sena will have an alliance with the BJP or it will go alone. The Jana Sena is focusing on constituencies in and around Hyderabad which have a sizable number of voters hailing from Andhra Pradesh.



Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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