Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is holding a grand roadshow in Hyderabad on Sunday as part of the BJP’s high profile campaign for next week’s municipal election.
Yogi Adityanath stood on a makeshift platform atop a bus, with state BJP chief and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay on his right, as the vehicle inched past a sea of saffron in the Jeedimetla area.
The roadshow includes dancers from the cultural traditions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (the two Telugu states) as well as Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP – an indication the BJP will leave no stone unturned in trying to make its mark in this election.
The UP Chief Minister will follow the roadshow with a public meeting at Lal Darwaza in Hyderabad’s Old City, which is widely seen as a stronghold of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
Boosted by its victory in an Assembly bypoll for the Dubbaka seat earlier this month, the BJP has targeted this Hyderabad election as a chance to carve out a space for itself in the southern state.
So far, the party has only managed to make inroads in Karnataka, where it formed the government after the controversial fall of the Congress-JDS coalition last year.
It has unleashed an army of A-listers – including Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda and union ministers Smriti Irani and Prakash Javadekar, all of whom have targeted (or are expected to target) what the party calls “unholy alliance” of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi.
Though the polls involve electing a mayor, and the pertinent issues are supply of water, power and electricity to the city’s nearly 10 million people, the campaign has swirled around controversial comments on Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, allegations of Rohingya infiltrators and a Hindu-Muslim narrative.
Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya called Mr Owaisi an “avatar of Mohammad Ali Jinnah” and accused the Hyderabad MP of bringing “Rohingya Muslims instead of development” to the city.
The police have red-flagged such comments, saying political speeches will be monitored and action will be taken against anything found inflammatory.
Earlier this week Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR, hit back and warned people that voting for the BJP would mean an “unsafe” Hyderabad.
“There will be curfews, stabbings and violence… (it will be) an unsafe city,” he said, adding the BJP believed in a “Hyderabad for only a few”.
In the last municipal election, the BJP won just four seats, while the TRS claimed 99 to sweep to a supremely comfortable win.
Four years on, the BJP’s campaign is not just about the civic polls and securing a ten-fold increase, but also the 2023 Telangana Assembly election, and taking control of a second southern state.
Voting for the 150 wards will be held on December 1, with results due December 4.