Though elections to the Telangana Assembly are still two years away, a sense of deja vu is already prevailing. The leaders of both the BJP and Congress, the two principal opposition parties, are raring to undertake padayatras to capture power in Telangana, a la Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, N Chandrababu Naidu and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2003, 2012 and 2017 respectively. The padayatras took the three leaders to almost cult status and they came to power; hence, the law of the padayatra has come to stay.
Now, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar is getting ready for a 750 km, 55-day padayatra from the Bhagya Lakshmi temple in Hyderabad to Huzurabad in Karimnagar district where a by-election is due. Summoning the spirit of the Quit India movement, he has drawn up an elaborate map for his padayatra, which begins on August 9. The aim is to shore up, in the near term, the prospects of his party in the Huzurabad bypoll—where it is challenging the ruling party with Eatala Rajender who resigned as a TRS MLA and joined the saffron brigade recently. It is a no-brainer that the BJP’s bigger game-plan is to defeat K Chandrashekar Rao in the 2023 Assembly elections.
A few days earlier, immediately after his appointment as PCC President, A Revanth Reddy announced that subject to the approval of the Congress high command, he wants to take out a padayatra from Alampur to Adilabad. It is obvious that a politician takes out a padayatra to impress upon the people that he is a force to reckon with. It also has a psychological impact that despite the physical pain a politician suffers, he is trying to reach out to the people. But if the people want to look beyond the TRS, would they choose the BJP or Congress? And there is also the possibility that voters may prove the padayatra law wrong by staying with KCR.