The BJP wants to take Hyderabad from “dynasty to democracy” and from “corruption to transparency”, Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared Sunday afternoon, after a massive roadshow to campaign for the party ahead of next week’s municipal election.
Mr Shah also launched a vitriolic attack on the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), accusing the ruling party of a “secret friendship” with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. The BJP has claimed that an “unholy alliance” between the TRS and the AIMIM is responsible for Hyderabad’s lack of development.
“We will take Hyderabad and Telangana from dynasty to democracy, from corruption to transparency. Everyone will get equal opportunity. No one will treat you like a secondary citizen. Hyderabad has the potential to become an IT hub. TRS and Congress is an impediment to this,” Mr Shah said.
“Ask KCR why friendship (with Mr Owaisi’s AIMIM) is a secret. Ask why he doesn’t have the guts to ally openly,” he added.
The Union Home Minister, who flew in Saturday, started his roadshow this morning with a visit to the Bhagyanagar temple. The temple is near the historic and 429-year-old Charminar monument, and reinforces the controversial nature of the BJP’s campaign for this election – that of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, allegations of Rohingya infiltrators and a Hindu-Muslim narrative.
Visuals show Mr Shah in a white face mask, standing on top of an open-air vehicle and waving to a sea of supporters dressed in saffron and waving the BJP and Indian national flags.
As the vehicle inches its way through the crowd enthusiastic whistles and loud drumbeats rend the air. Mr Shah’s roadshow is expected to wind through the Sanath Nagar and Khairatabad areas of Hyderabad, as well as the posh residential neighbourhood of Jubilee Hills.
The choice of the temple is significant given Yogi Adityanath’s comment from Saturday night – when he declared the BJP could rename Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar if it won next week’s election.
Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay, who is also known for provocative statements, has already said a “vijay yatra (victory trip)” will start from the Bhagyanagar temple – an indication of the party’s confidence that it will do well in this election.
“They are asking… why Bhagyanagar temple? I say, why not? Is it in Pakistan? If they say yes, then we will carry out surgical strikes to weed out illegal Rohingyas, Pakistanis and Afghanistanis,” he said, claiming the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Mr Owaisi’s AIMIM (which is friendly but not allied with the TRS) depended on their vote.
The BJP has claimed that an “unholy alliance” between the TRS and AIMIM is responsible for Hyderabad’s lack of development.
Boosted by its victory in an Assembly bypoll for the Dubbaka seat earlier this month, the BJP has targeted this election as a chance to carve out a space for itself in the southern state.
In 2016 the party claimed four of 150 seats as Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS swept to power with 99. A strong showing will help it press its case in Tamil Nadu, where Assembly elections are due early next year.
Among other big names it has drafted in Karnataka MP Tejasvi Surya, who referred to Mr Owaisi as “Jinnah’s new avatar“. Comments like this have prompted Telangana Police to say that political speeches will be monitored and action will be taken against anything found inflammatory.
Meanwhile, hours before Amit Shah’s roadshow the Chief Minister appealed to the people of Hyderabad to “save the city from divisive forces” – a reference to the BJP leaders’ vitriolic attacks about the city harbouring infiltrators from Pakistan and Myanmar.
On Saturday, the Chief Minister said, “Theirs (the BJP) is a very dangerous proposal…Hyderabad is a truthfully cosmopolitan city…We have been living here, my dear brothers and sisters of Hyderabad…I’m appealing very earnestly…Please support TRS.”
Voting for the 150 wards will be held on December 1, with results due December 4.