Divisions crop up in Telangana BJP over new state chief

The front-runner for the post is Malkajgiri MP Eatala Rajender, who is reportedly favoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
BJP state president and G Kishan Reddy addresses a meeting of the party’s booth presidents of the Secunderabad Assembly constituency in Hyderabad on Saturday
BJP state president and G Kishan Reddy addresses a meeting of the party’s booth presidents of the Secunderabad Assembly constituency in Hyderabad on SaturdayPhoto|Express

HYDERABAD : Differences are cropping up within the Telangana BJP over the appointment of a new state unit president. The party’s old guard and newcomers are divided with each faction backing different candidates even as the high command is yet to make public its choice of the next BJP state president.

The front-runner for the post is Malkajgiri MP Eatala Rajender, who is reportedly favoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. But the old guard is reportedly unhappy with Rajender as he is a relatively new entrant to the party. The old guard favours leaders like current vice president Manohar Reddy and former MLC N Ramchander Rao, who have strong ties to the RSS and are proponents of the Sangh ideology. According to sources, the old guard in the BJP is lobbying vigorously for its preferred candidates.

Meanwhile, other prominent MPs, including DK Aruna, M Raghunandan Rao and Dharmapuri Arvind too are vying for the post. Amidst this, Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh said that the post should be given to someone capable of coordinating effectively and enhancing the party’s image and strength in the state. While the statement found agreement with everyone across the board, leaders have been wondering if Raja Singh was referring to someone specific.

The MLA’s words are in line with the party’s goal of coming to power in Telangana in the next Assembly election. The party is buoyed by the fact that it won eight out of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the same as the Congress. The saffron party is now focusing on strengthening its grassroots presence and fielding strong candidates in all Assembly constituencies. Before the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP welcomed sitting MPs and former MLAs into its fold to position itself as a major opposition force.

Given these dynamics, the party high command is keen on a leader with a clean image and the ability to galvanise the cadre ahead of the next Assembly elections. Incidentally, the BJP has promised to appoint a leader from the Backward Community as the chief minister if it wins the Assembly elections. This has sparked discussions whether a BC leader will be chosen as the state president who could then be projected as its chief ministerial candidate.

Whoever he or she may be, the next BJP state president will have to quell the discontent brewing among some Lok Sabha members who had hoped for Union Cabinet positions but were disappointed.

With only Bandi Sanjay appointed as Minister of State and G Kishan Reddy holding a Union Cabinet rank, these MPs are now aiming for the state unit president position. They may be even more miffed if they do not get the post.

Meanwhile, political observers are watching intently to see how the BJP deals with the factionism that has emerged in its ranks and how it reconciles differences between the old guard and newcomers, as well as between RSS and non-RSS ideology leaders.

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