GHMC Election Result: How LB Nagar Became a BJP-RSS Success Story
BJP has swept LB Nagar Zone, where the RSS carried out a massive march during Mohan Bhagwat’s visit in December 2019
On 24 December 2019, a video of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres marching in Hyderabad went viral. The march began in southeastern Hyderabad areas like Mansoorabad, Vanasthalipuram and Hastinapuram and culminated at the Lal Bahadur Nagar crossing from where the cadres marched to the Saroornagar Indoor stadium, where RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat gave a speech.
Less than a year later, these areas – falling under the LB Nagar Zone – have been the biggest success story for the BJP in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, whose results were announced on 4 December.
The BJP has won around two thirds of the wards in this zone. And these form a little less than half of the BJP's total victories in the corporation.
Why the Win in LB Nagar Stands Out
The BJP deployed several senior leaders in the campaign – from Home Minister Amit Shah, to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, party president JP Nadda and several Central ministers.
But the main gains for the party were in LB Nagar and Secunderabad zones. In Malkajgiri, where Adityanath made his “change Hyderabad’s name to Bhagyanagar” pitch, the performance wasn’t as great.
It is the performance in LB Nagar that stands out.
This is because Secunderabad and Hindu-dominated parts of the Old City have traditionally been a strong area for the BJP. Its poor performance in the 2016 GHMC election and 2018 Assembly elections was not a true reflection of its strength.
Both these elections must be seen as the byproduct of the TRS surge after the formation of the new state.
Therefore, the BJP was already strong in the area and it was just a question of presenting itself as a viable alternative at the municipal level.
This is why the LB Nagar performance needs to be seen as an exception.
What worked for the BJP? There are at least three key factors.
1. RSS Presence
As is evident from the Mohan Bhagwat's rally and the march that preceded it, this area has a massive RSS presence. Areas like LB Nagar and Saroor Nagar have a high concentration of shakhas as well.
Till now the RSS presence hadn't quite translated into electoral victories for the BJP. But this has changed in the GHMC elections.
2. Flood Impact
This area, which falls South of the Musi river, was also badly affected by the floods earlier this year. For instance in Vanasthalipuram, several homes had become completely submerged and clashes over relief had also taken place.
There was a great deal of resentment against the TRS here and the BJP seems to have capitalised on it.
3. Vacuum in Opposition
LB Nagar and much of Eastern Hyderabad was never a strong area for TRS. The area used to be dominated by the Telugu Desam Party and the Congress but the weakening of both these parties seems to have benefited the BJP, which presented itself as the main challenger to the TRS.
The shift of the Congress MLA from LB Nagar D Sudheer Reddy to the TRS also may have contributed to the confusion among voters. After all, if the constituency voted against TRS even in the 2018 wave, there was clearly a strong sentiment against it. The shift of an MLA doesn’t necessarily mean that the sentiment against TRS changed here.
The defections from Congress to TRS have generally helped the BJP present itself as the main Opposition force.
What Does This Mean for Telangana Politics?
The BJP would now naturally fancy its chances of winning LB Nagar in the next Assembly polls but its impact goes beyond that.
The area has a sizeable number of voters who have migrated from Nalgonda district in Southern Telangana. Nalgonda is another weak area for the TRS and is a Congress stronghold. The party has won the seat at the Lok Sabha level since 2009, despite all the upheavals in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The LB Nagar win may give the BJP a foothold in Nalgonda, in all probability at the Congress' expense.
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