Hyderabad: When Bharatiya Janata Party national president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses a public meeting in Nizamabad city in Telangana on 17 September, it won’t be just another meeting for his party. This is an issue around which BJP plans to expand and capture political power in the state by the next elections. It is on this day that the erstwhile Hyderabad state was merged with the Indian Union 71 years ago.

It is on this day that the then seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, had surrendered to the Indian Army sent by first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Till then, the Nizam was contemplating to remain independent, away from both Pakistan and India. However, it was Patel who used force to bring around the Nizam and complete the process of merger of princely states with the Indian Union.

After witnessing the groundswell of support from the general public to the Narendra Modi government’s bold move to abrogate Article 370 early this week, the BJP leadership has decided to play the same card of national integration in Telangana. Of course, there is a Hindu-Muslim divide here too, as the state’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which is an ally of AIMIM, prefers not to celebrate 17 September, thinking this will alienate voters from the minority community.

Before 1948, the AIMIM (then it was just MIM—Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen) had its links with Qasim Rizvi, who led the Nizam’s private army. Later Abdul Wahed Owaisi, the grandfather of current president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi, got charge of the MIM. Though AIMIM is now committed to democracy, the party prefers not to talk about 17 September.

Successive governments in Telangana led by Congress, TDP and now TRS too have looked away from 17 September and never bothered to celebrate the anniversary of merger of Hyderabad with the Indian Union. However, BJP sees a political opportunity on the occasion for its expansion in Telangana to mobilise the majority Hindus to its side.

At his meeting, Shah is expected to launch a frontal attack on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar’s TRS government and position the BJP as an alternative to the people. The joining of several leaders from other parties into BJP has emboldened its leaders to go aggressive as an opposition in the state. Former Congress MP and senior Dalit leader G. Vivek’s entry into BJP has thrilled the saffron camp. Vivek, the son of former Union minister G. Venkataswamy, represented Peddapalli (SC) seat in the 15th Lok Sabha. After losing the 2014 elections, he joined TRS and became a government adviser till March 2019, when he was denied the party ticket. Vivek’s entry into BJP gives the party a strong Dalit leader in Telangana. Also, some Congress seniors have joined the BJP, while several others are in the queue. The BJP hopes to gain from the meltdown in the Telangana unit of the Congress.

Expectedly, TRS working president and former minister K.T. Rama Rao (KTR) has said that by celebrating 17 September BJP was escalating communal tensions. KTR has also made it clear that his party would not celebrate 17 September. BJP precisely wanted this response from TRS.

 

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