Stepping up the BJP’s outreach to the BCs (Backward Classes) in Telangana ahead of the November 30 Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his party’s promise about appointing a chief minister from the community should the BJP come to power in the state. He was speaking at the BC Atma Gourava Sabha (backward classes self-respect meeting) in Hyderabad on Tuesday,
“I can sense that Telangana is ready for a BC CM as the BJP will come to power in the state. The winds of change have started blowing,’’ Modi said. His statement came ten days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah first made such a declaration in the state.
Thousands of people attended Tuesday’s mega public meeting at the LB stadium in the city. Actor-turned-politician K Pawan Kalyan, who heads the Jana Sena Party (JSP), an NDA ally, was also present on the stage. The bonhomie displayed by Modi and Kalyan is a possible signal that the JSP may be accommodated in a seat-sharing arrangement for the polls. The BJP has so far announced its candidates for 100 out of 119 Assembly seats.
All of the state’s major BC faces of the party — Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Nizamabad MP Arvind Dharmapuri, BC Morcha president Dr K Laxman and MLA Etela Rajender — were said to have been at the forefront of organising this meeting.
Modi said an “aandhi (wave)” in Telangana would blow in favour of the BJP after the event.
“In 2013, I was invited to address a public meeting at this place. The BJP had for the first time issued tickets and it was houseful. You laid the foundation to bring BJP to power at the Centre and make me PM. I am very confident that just as you made me PM, you will also make a BJP BC CM,” he said.
Referring to President Droupadi Murmu, PM Modi said the BJP was the only party which could make a member of the tribal community the Head of the State. The PM also said the BJP appointed the first Dalit Speaker of the Lok Sabha, GMC Balayogi, in 1998.
Hitting out at the K Chandrashekar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government, which he termed was the “C team of the Congress”, he said, “BRS leaders are linked to the Delhi liquor scam case. In all government recruitment exams, corruption and irregularities have become common. The TSPSC (Telangana State Public Service Commission) exams paper leaks happened due to the utter failure of the BRS government.”
Appealing to the people to bring in a “double-engine” government, the PM said the BRS had “looted people”. He added that his government would “give free ration to all eligible beneficiaries”.
The PM’s speech evoked an enthusiastic response from the gathering.
There are 134 BC castes in Telangana, and amidst the growing demand for a caste-based survey in the state, the rally assumes significance.
Also, notably, several BC community leaders met PM Modi backstage before he addressed the meeting. Among them was Telangana BC Welfare Association president Jajula Srinivas Goud. He says the party has created a “favourable impression” by giving 40 tickets to BCs, claiming there would be “a strong pro-BJP wave” after the meeting.
But a question remains on whether the BJP would be able to bring together the BC communities, which have had varied voting patterns.
“The BCs have never voted en masse for any party. This is the reason they are never in a position to acquire political power to demand a BC CM or have enough representation in the legislature to push for a common agenda,” said R Krishnaiah, president of the National BC Welfare Association.
He added that if the “BJP is committed to giving the CM’s post to a BC community leader, then they should also commit to increasing quota according to BC population, undertake a comprehensive BC caste survey, and announce BC welfare budgets”.