NEW DELHI: What typically seems a bipolar contest between the ruling BRS, led by CM K Chandrashekhar Rao, and its main contender Congress, the Telangana assembly polls might just get spiced up with BJP deciding to enter the fray with gusto after a lull in the saffron party’s enthusiasm following its defeat in neighbouring Karnataka last May.
The saffron outfit is working on fielding candidates for most of the 119 assembly seats in the state, where it still has a slight presence, to make it a three-way contest on November 30.

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BJP’s entry would help split the anti-incumbency votes against BRS, contesting to return to office for a third consecutive term, and dent the chances of Congress which would have relished a direct fight.

After being routed by Congress in Karnataka, BJP seemed to have lost the energy to go full steam to gain enough ground to play as a significant player in Telangana. On the other hand, Congress is upbeat post Karnataka verdict and ready to take on BRS with renewed vigour.

BJP was looking at gains in the state since the saffron party won 48 of the 150 seats in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in 2020. Now the party is gearing up to contest most of the seats even as its prospects are low in majority of them. The idea is to play the spoiler to ensure Congress does not garner the entire chunk of anti-incumbency votes against BRS, party strategists said.

In fact, with limited boots on the ground, BJP may find it difficult to get candidates in many seats. Hence the plan, according to insiders, is also to support strong “Independents” in constituencies where it doesn’t have its own.
With Congress picking up pace in the state, BJP is more concerned about the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as it would prefer a “compliant BRS” rather than main rival Congress to gain.
With minority votes deciding the outcome of many seats in Telangana, BJP is trying to ensure that Muslim voters do not shift to Congress from BRS, following a perception of proximity of KCR’s party with BJP.
BRS had been an unofficial ally of the Modi government in Parliament, supporting many of its bills and issues earlier. The party is fighting a general perception that it is in league with BJP in view of central agencies like ED appearing to go slow on KCR’s daughter K Kavitha in connection with the Delhi liquor scam even after calling her for questioning. To remove this perception, PM Modi himself announced BJP’s distance from BRS last week. by hitting out at KCR.

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