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National ambitions in mind, KCR could send party legislators to campaign against BJP in Gujarat

With an aim to dent BJP voter base, Telangana CM considers sending a team of MPs, MLAs, MLCs to Gujarat where polls are due next month; BJP says it will turn out to be a futile exercise.

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Hyderabad: Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who is aiming to establish his party, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), on the national front, is considering the option of sending a team of legislators to Gujarat to campaign against the BJP ahead of the polls in the state in December, sources told ThePrint.

Gujarat is set to go for polls in two phases — on 1 December and 5 December. The results will be declared on 8 December. 

Discussions are ongoing at Chief Minister’s office-cum-residence Pragati Bhavan, in Hyderabad, with his close aides, sources said Friday. 

“The idea is not to support any party but to campaign against BJP and if we’re campaigning against BJP, it might automatically benefit Aam Aadmi Party and that’s not an issue for us, as of now. A team comprising MLAs, MPs and MLCs will probably head to Gujarat once the final decision is taken,” a senior Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader, close aide of KCR, told ThePrint Friday.

Confirming the development, TRS Rajya Sabha member Keshava Rao said that the final decision is yet to be taken. “He is thinking about it (sending a team to campaign in Gujarat). I don’t think he has taken a final decision on that yet,” Rao told ThePrint. 

In October, TRS was renamed to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) with an aim to establish it as a national party and a strong alternative to BJP as well as Congress. The focus, however, lately, has been more on targeting BJP, with the Chief Minister becoming a staunch critic of the saffron party, saying that there is a need for an alternate party to emerge at the Centre to protect the democracy of the country which, according to him, is under threat under BJP’s governance. 

Also Read: ‘What has Modi delivered?’ — KTR flexes ‘national party’ BRS’s muscles, says 2024 polls are target

BRS’ ‘plan of action’ for Gujarat

“As and when we campaign, it would be projected as a campaign for BRS and not directly supporting any other party. The idea is also to publicise the TRS MLA poaching scam and release the videos on social media and make sure it reaches a larger audience in Gujarat,” the senior party leader cited above said. The party leader was referring to the arrest of three alleged BJP agents who were allegedly trying to poach four TRS MLAs. 

Last week, the Chief Minister, at a press conference, shared videos of the alleged BJP agents negotiating with the MLAs and trying to convince them to move to BJP for as much as Rs 100 crore. The BJP had denied charges of poaching and said that the videos were “staged”.

KCR said the videos have been sent to Chief Justices of all the High Courts in the country, judges of Supreme Court with an idea “to expose how undemocratically was BJP operating”.

The target population, while campaigning in Gujarat, would be the educated population and also the “significant Telugu crowd” settled in the state, said another leader familiar with the development.

“We understand that there is deep polarisation in Gujarat, but we’re targeting the educated population and Telugu crowd who may not be strong, blind supporters of BJP,” the leader said, adding that influential people from Gujarati communities in Hyderabad will also be interacted with. 

Separately, the Chief Minister’s team also obtained reports from experts on the ground situation in Gujarat.

Ravichand, from poll survey firm Peoples Pulse, said that the Telugu-speaking population in Gujarat might be less than 2 percent, predominantly settled in Surat, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Baroda and Rajkot. Ahmedabad has as many as 50,000 Telugu speaking people, he said.

“We estimate there could be 7 lakh Telugu-speaking people, of which 3-4 lakh could be voters. There are Telugu-speaking associations and are quite active in the state and their votes are not decisive. Their votes swing with whoever is winning. Just like how the sunflower changes its direction with the sun,” Ravichand said.

“Anyway, the vote bank against BJP will remain the way it has been. The supporters for BJP will not change their stand. It is hard to change the perceptions in Gujarat because the BJP has been ruling there for several terms… So, this (BRS) campaign will not really make any difference on the ground,” Ravichand said.

Terming BRS’ plan to send legislators to Gujarat “a futile exercise”, Telangana BJP spokesperson N.V. Subhash said, “Sending TRS legislators to Gujarat, showing videos of poaching of MLAs’ [to the public] is a futile exercise. Even people of Telangana have stopped believing KCR and his team for the false promises the party has been making for the past eight years. How can people of Gujarat believe KCR? Instead of making false allegations on BJP and wasting time on trivial issues KCR should focus development of the state. If he would have met PM Modi today, people of Telangana would have been more than happy because the central government is in the process of sanctioning unlimited funds to the state for development.”

Notably, PM Narendra Modi was in Telangana on Saturday where he launched multiple projects.

(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)

Also Read: In ‘semi-final’ bypoll before Telangana elections in 2023, TRS survives tough match with BJP


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