Will T-electorate wake up to appeasement politics?

With the state assembly elections around the corner, all principal parties are bent upon to play out all that tricks in their bags to lure the electorate. And the ruling party, Bharat Rashtriya Samiti (BRS), which is making a bid to come back to power for the third consecutive time, looks more desperate than the other two opponents – the Congress and BJP.  It is not only facing the anti-incumbency factor, but also the challenge to convince its name change – from the regional to national! On the other hand, the Congress is riding high on their back-to-back victories in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, and looks more than confident of similar guarantees offered to neighboring Karnataka electorate to lure, especially to minorities, can help them to come back to power after a decade-long gap. Yes, it’s the age-old trick – pro-minorities plank and divide Hindus on caste basis – to try their luck.   

But, shrewd BRS founder and state chief minister Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, who almost covered all sections of the society ensuring some benefit or the other, including the negligible Brahmin vote bank, would not like to leave any such opportunity to the Congress. As a result, in a bid to keep his minority community vote bank from deciding factor with a 4-5 percent vote share, has announced gifting away 125 acres of land for their burial ground purposes. And, the district collectors of Rangareddy and Malkajgiri districts, which skirt Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to identify land and hand it over to its all-weather ally AIMIM the Government Order to benefit the community.  What is more disturbing is that the lands gifted away for burials reportedly of the temple lands!

Apart from this, he had also announced from the floors of the assembly on the last day that Rs 1 lakh each to 10,000 unemployed youth as well as Rs 5k to that community clerics.

However, KCR seems to have received a setback, in the case of gifting away the prime 125-acre land to Muslim brethren to utilize for burial purposes, when the farming community of these two districts moved the state High Court and got the stay. The decision was taken to lure minorities to lure whatever little Chuck was left with the Congress was loud and clear. It is no secret that the Congress party’s emphatic win in neighboring Karnataka was solely due to the minority Muslims backing that party, deserting even the Janata Dal (Secular) of Kumaraswamy. This was evident from the minority community leaders demanding even the deputy chief minister and at least 3-4 cabinet berths soon after the election results were announced in Karnataka. But Congress could silence the community by revoking the 4 percent reservations policy which was quashed by the BJP government and also the withdrawal of banning hijab in educational institutions.

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Thus far, it is a setback to the Congress of KCR government’s luring schemes of the minorities than to the BJP. Although the court might have given a stay and may take its own time to decide, once the election schedule is announced, it becomes infructuous. In my view, it may prove advantageous to the ruling BRS than Congress as minorities may be swayed away by KCR’s gesture. Thus far, the Congress appears to have lost the ‘guarantees’ trick that indeed worked in Karnataka. Now they are running short of ideas to lure the electorate, considering their ‘trust deficit among the people of the state. How in the past, the majority of those who won on the party ticket got deserted to join the ruling TRS (now BRS) soon after the 2014 and 2018 polls and it is no secret how the age-old party has given on platter the Opposition status to the ruling party ally, AIMIM, in the state assembly.

On the other hand, the BJP which lost its rhythm after the replacement of their state unit chief – from an aggressive party MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar with soft-spoken another MP and Union Minister G Kishen Reddy – the fresh developments, which includes the state HC staying the KCR govt’s land ‘gift’ to minorities for ‘burial ground’ purpose, undoubtedly comes handy. Moreover, although Kishen Reddy may be a soft-spoken person, had the experience of the holding same post during the 2018 assembly polls and ensure the party’s magnificent performance in the LS polls that followed in 2019, when the party bagged a record four LS seats.

Against that backdrop, the fresh developments that too ahead of the assembly polls which are due in December may prove advantageous for the saffron party to regain its lost steam to take advantage. And, the BJP’s central leadership has intensified its focus on the state elections, by ensuring that the party focuses more on the 20-25 reserved seats for the SCs and STs, besides polarizing the Hindu community on the appeasement politics of the ruling as well as the Congress party of minority Muslims. The party is also not leaving any stone unturned by mobilizing their legislators from the neighboring state to concentrate in almost all 119 assemblies in the state to ensure the party nominees’ victory.

Contrary to this aggressive posture as well as the Damocles sword which is hanging on the neck of the Kalvakuntla family, none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, making his government’s intentions clear of coming down heavily on all those facing graft charges. And, the Kalvakuntla family is scared of what happened to their MLC Kavitha, whose name figures in the FIR submitted by the ED to the court in the multi-crore Delhi Excise policy scam. Added to that, if one has to believe the BJP MP and now one of the national party general secretaries, the central agencies too have gathered clinching evidence in yet another multi-crore Kaleshwaram irrigation scam.

Both the Prime Minister and his Home Minister Amit Shah, did mention it as their ‘ATM’ during their earlier election rallies in the state. And, the BJP looks more than confident now armed with all this armory in its possession to try its luck to breach the magic figure on its own in the state assembly polls. One has to wait and see how far these issues would bring electoral gains to the saffron party. Many political analysts feel that any move to arrest either Kavitha or any other ruling family member, may as well boomerang on the saffron party as it only helps gain the sympathy vote in their favor.

Hence, how the Central agencies go after the Kalvakuntlas in the coming days depends much on the permutations and combinations of the saffron party. Added to that also the Prime Minister’s new election war cry ‘Quit parivarvad’ (dynasts) , Quit Brashtachar (corrupt) and ‘Quit Thustikaran’ (appeasement politics).