Hyderabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is once again looking to rake up the issue of ‘Telangana Liberation Day, this time to apparently draw political mileage in the ensuing bypoll to the Huzurabad Assembly constituency.
With Union Home Minister Amit Shah set to address a public meeting on September 17 in Nirmal district, the saffron party will be making another attempt to cash in on the sensitive issue.
For several years, the BJP has been pushing the state government to officially celebrate Telangana Liberation Day.
On September 17, 1948, the then Hyderabad state was merged with the Indian Union following India’s military action ‘Operation Polo’, popularly known as ‘police action’.
The public meeting to be addressed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be held at Veyi Udala Marri. It is said that Nizam’s ‘Razakars’ (volunteers) had allegedly killed 1,000 people fighting against Nizam’s government near a banyan tree at Udala Marri. The place later came to be known as Veyi Udala Marri.
Political analysts say that the BJP, which has been projecting itself as an alternative to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), is looking to strengthen itself by raking up emotive issues.
This will not be the first time that a Central minister will be addressing a public meeting to mark the day.
In 2017, then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had addressed a public meeting organised by the BJP in Nizamabad.
Addressing that public meeting, Singh had said that the 13-month period from August 15, 1947 to September 17, 1948 was a dark chapter in India’s history as the ruler of Hyderabad state committed repression on people, who wanted to merge with India.
He paid tributes to India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for launching ‘police action’ to force the Nizam to merge Hyderabad state with the Indian Union.
In 2019, then BJP state chief K. Laxman had announced that Amit Shah would address a massive public meeting in Hyderabad on September 17 to mark Telangana Liberation Day.
However, the last minute cancellation of Shah’s visit had left the party’s state unit disappointed.
The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi had unfurled the national flag at the BJP state headquarters in Hyderabad to mark the occasion.
Last year, the BJP had raised the issue during elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). While campaigning for the party, Amit Shah had said that his party wants to free Hyderabad from Nizam culture.
Shah said that it was because of Sardar Patel that Telangana, Marathwada and Hyderabad became part of India. He alleged that there were some people who ran a campaign to merge these with Pakistan.
“(Asaduddin) Owaisi should respond as to who talked of merging Telangana with Pakistan,” he had said while reacting to MIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s allegation that the BJP was dividing people.
This year, the BJP is organising the public meeting at Nirmal, which comes under the Adilabad Lok Sabha constituency held by the party.
Adilabad was one of the three Lok Sabha seats wrested by the BJP from the TRS in the 2019 elections. It also retained the Secunderabad constituency, thus winning four seats, its best-ever performance.
Political observers say the public meeting at Nirmal will not only set the tone for the party’s campaign for the Huzurabad bypoll, but will also be part of the party’s strategy to strengthen itself across the state.
In the Adilabad parliamentary constituency, BJP’s Soyam Bapu Rao had defeated his nearest rival Godam Nagesh of TRS by 58,560 votes. Out of seven Assembly segments under Adilabad parliamentary constituency, BJP had secured majority in four segments.
The TRS, which had won all seven segments in the 2018 Assembly elections, could take the lead only in two segments while the Congress was ahead in the remaining one segment.
The public meeting at Nirmal will also be significant as the party’s state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar’s ‘padyatra’ will be reaching the town to coincide with the event.
Sanjay, who launched the walkathon from Hyderabad late last month, is on the offensive, attacking the TRS and its friendly party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM).
The padyatra by Sanjay, who is also an MP from Karimnagar, is expected to give boost to the saffron party ahead of the Huzurabad bypolls.
The BJP is confident of wresting Huzurabad from TRS as Eatala Rajender, who quit the ruling party to join the BJP after being dropped from the state Cabinet, is contesting as the saffron party’s candidate. Rajender is believed to be enjoying good support.
Huzurabad is one of the Assembly segments under the Karimnagar parliamentary constituency and it was one of the three segments where TRS could get the majority of votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had the upper hand in the remaining four segments.
The BJP has been demanding for the last two decades that the day should be officially celebrated like in some districts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, which were part of the Hyderabad state.
Like the previous governments in undivided Andhra Pradesh, the TRS government in Telangana has rejected the demands for officially celebrating the day.
The TRS, Congress and other parties celebrate September 17 as ‘Telangana Merger Day’ by hoisting the national flag and paying tributes to the freedom fighters.
Every year, BJP workers try to hoist the national flag at government offices and public places to press for their demand for officially celebrating the day. The party has alleged that the ruling party is scared of declaring official celebrations due to pressure from MIM.
Leaders of TRS, Congress and other parties condemn what they term as BJP’s attempts to give communal colour to the merger day.
Muslim groups have been opposing any celebrations as they say that Muslims were massacred during the ‘police action’.
MIM maintains that there is only one Independence Day for the entire country and hence there is no need for separate celebrations in Telangana.