Time for Bandi to bite the bullet against old guard dissent

Hyderabad: A report anticipated from a three-member disciplinary committee is becoming a test for state BJP party president Bandi Sanjay, even as the old guard is mobilising into a unified faction against him, with clear tones of consolidation along caste lines.

On the surface, it is essentially about the committee finding out about the role played by Perala Shekhar Rao in having an informal group, led by senior leader and former MLC N. Ramchander Rao, going to meet TRS working president and minister KT. Rama Rao at Pragathi Bhavan.

In the meeting, purportedly, the BJP delegation requested the TRS to not file a candidate against its official nominee for the Lingojiguda. BJP’s Lingojiguda corporator-elect Akula Ramesh Goud passed away even before he could take oath. The saffron party decided to field his son, Akhil Goud, in the ensuing bypoll.

The BJP delegation, led by Ramchander Rao requested Rama Rao to make the election unanimous. Rama Rao reportedly spoke to Telangana Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy and his party president K. Chandrashekar Rao. Since both leaders agreed, the TRS announced it would not field a candidate.

Interestingly, afterwards, the TRS was also forced to announce it won’t contest in another bypoll necessitated by the death of the Nazia Begum, a MIM ward councillor from Japalli municipality, paving way for the candidate, the daughter-in-law of the deceased to be unanimously elected.

The BJP disciplinary committee, headed by former Nizamabad MLA and senior leader, Endela Lakshminarayana, is expected to give its report in a day or two. Lakshminarayana refused to speak to the media, saying, “the committee will submit its report to the party and till the party discloses the decisions to the media, I cannot speak.”

Ramchander Rao, responding to the issue, said, “The party shall decide shortly after the panel submits its report. Those who went there had no malafide intent and are disciplined workers of the party.”

Insiders, however, reveal a very different and deeper issue at play.

“Ever since Bandi Sanjay took over, the old guard, predominantly upper caste leaders, who got very comfortable cosying up the powers in the state, have been shaken up. Fearing irrelevance in the new BJP 2.0 under the dynamic Sanjay, they are trying to undermine him. There were a series of meetings held recently at the residence of a senior leader at Uppal to spoil Sanjay’s image and try to re-establish the cloud of the old guard,” said a senior leader.

Speaking of the frustrations within, the leader also said, “They got used to being friendly with the TD when Naidu was in power and with TRS after 2014. They never wished to take on the TRS and try to bring the party in power. Now, with the change in scenario, they are so frustrated, they were happily badmouthing our party president to the working president of the rival party.”

Reportedly, when Rama Rao “complained” to Shekhar Rao about the “objectionable words used by Bandi Sanjay”, especially against the Chief Minister, he not agreed with him but also reportedly replied, “several people are unhappy in the BJP with Sanjay’s leadership, especially his style of talking. Even the RSS is aware. Action will be taken soon.”

When asked about the incident, another senior BJP leader said, “it was a sudden meeting. The district-level party wanted to go and meet both Congress and TRS leaders and convey their request, especially because of the Covid, to avoid another bypoll. It was conveyed to Sanjay and only after he agreed, did these people go? He is more upset because he was criticised.”

It was angrily contested by a senior leader from the Sanjay camp. “These leaders are so happy praising TRS leadership and criticising our own. They are upset that a BC leader is rising in Telangana. It is the coming together of upper castes – Brahmin, Reddy and Velamma – none of whom can stomach an OBC being accepted by a majority of people in Telangana.”

The BJP state leadership, under Sanjay, has taken a very serious view of the matter. “We see it as an attempt to dilute the BJP’s narrative that it is the alternative to TRS. It was to cause doubts in minds of people, on the eve of Nagarjunsagar polls, that the BJP and TRS are potential partners in future, not rivals.”

The state unit has written to both party president J.P. Nadda and state in-charge Tarun Chugh about the issue. “It is necessary because the two senior leaders — Perala Shekhar Rao and Ramchander Rao — are members of the party national executive. A state committee cannot take action against them,” a leader explained.

While some leaders said the party image was getting damaged with the small issue being blown out of proportion in public glare, the new guard feels it is time for Sanjay to bite the bullet and establish who the boss is.

“If leaders go and start creating alliances with TRS without informing the party leadership, it is a serious offence. The leadership must take stern action action to quell such tendencies as well as to convince people that the BJP is serious about bringing down the TRS government in the next election.”



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