How Raja Singh's Case Shows Rift Within Both Telangana BJP & Hindutva Ecosystem

Hindutva supporters accuse BJP of "not backing Raja Singh," who doesn't get along with many Telangana BJP leaders.

5 min read
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Suspended BJP MLA from Telangana, T Raja Singh, was arrested by the Hyderabad Police and charged under the Preventive Detention (PD) Act. The arrest may be seen as an attempt to ease tensions in Hyderabad, which had seen protests following Raja Singh's release on bail regarding his utterances against Prophet Muhammad.

In a video targeted at comedian Munawar Faruqui, Raja Singh had made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad and also 'made a joke' about Muslim women being raped in Gujarat in 2002.

The case against Raja Singh has put the Telangana BJP in a bind. It comes at a time when it is trying to emerge as the main challenger to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state and is pulling out all stops to win an upcoming bypoll in Munugode in Nalgonda district.


The state unit stands divided on whether to support Raja Singh or to remain silent on the issue. Having already suspended Raja Singh, the party is now facing allegations of "not standing by him" from a section of Hindutva supporters.

A lot of this is to do with Raja Singh's social background as well as his curious position within the BJP.

This piece will look at the following aspects:

  • Criticism of BJP from within the Hindutva ecosystem

  • BJP's internal fissures in Telangana

  • Raja Singh's own background

BJP's Faces Flak From Within Hindutva Ecosystem

The BJP suspended Raja Singh soon after his video went viral.

Since the party had suspended Nupur Sharma for similar remarks against Prophet Muhammad, Raja Singh's suspension was an extension of the same principle and could be seen as an attempt to avoid the international embarrassment it had faced in the former's case.

In addition, the party had already begun facing flak due to Raja Singh's comments joking about rape of Muslim women in 2002.

However, the difference between Sharma and Raja Singh was that the latter is an MLA and not just a spokesperson.


Several Hindutva activists – both online as well as on the ground in Hyderabad – are accusing the BJP of throwing Raja Singh under the bus.

"We have always fought for Hindutva in Hyderabad even in days there was no support and we will continue to. Raja Singh is a hero for us. But they (BJP) have suspended him due to vote bank politics. It is demoralising for us," Subhash Chander, a sympathiser of Raja Singh in Hyderabad, told The Quint.

Another supporter, Prasad, said, 'This is not the first time. BJP left Nupur Sharma and its own workers in West Bengal to fend for themselves. Then in Karnataka too. They are concerned only about power."

Nalin Kumar, another supporter of Raja Singh, wrote on his social media account, "They are not standing by Raja Singh because he has his own following and doesn't carry slippers of central leaders."

This was an apparent dig at Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar, whose video carrying Amit Shah's slippers recently went viral.

A local Shiv Sena unit and several Hindutva organisations have openly come out in support of Raja Singh. Hundreds had gathered to welcome him after he received bail on 23 August.

The AIMIM, however, doesn't buy the BJP's efforts to distance itself from Raja Singh and has accused the party of trying to stir up trouble in Hyderabad. AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted:

Hindutva supporters accuse BJP of "not backing Raja Singh," who doesn't get along with many Telangana BJP leaders.

Raja Singh's Detractors Within the Telangana BJP

In the Telangana unit of the BJP, Raja Singh has his fair share of detractors. For instance, he is known to share a frosty relationship with Union Minister and Secunderabad MP G Kishan Reddy.

Kishan Reddy feigned ignorance about Raja Singh's video or his arrest on 23 August. He later got bail but has now been re-arrested under PD Act.

Even as the controversy around Raja Singh dominated the media space, Kishan Reddy put out a series of tweets in Telugu targeting the TRS government, but made no mention of the MLA's arrest.

When Kishan Reddy was an MLA from Amberpet, he is said to have had a decent relationship with local Muslims as well, in contrast to Raja Singh's hardline Hindutva politics.

However, ideology doesn't seem to be the reason here. Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who is also known to make controversial statements like Raja Singh, also doesn't share a great rapport with the Goshamahal MLA.

Many in the Telangana BJP feel that Raja Singh's video and arrest are diverting attention from the BJP's other efforts in the state, especially in highlighting the TRS' alleged connection to the liquor scam allegations against the AAP government in Delhi.

The controversy erupted around the same time when Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar was detained as he was protesting against the arrest of BJP workers. They had been arrested as they were protesting outside TRS leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha's residence regarding the alleged liquor scam.

"TRS should go and thank Raja Singh. They are using the Raja Singh controversy to show BJP as a party of rowdies and clampdown on our political mobilisation. They are trying to scuttle our Praja Sangrama Yatra," a party leader from Telangana told The Quint.

There is some truth to this. The TRS is now using Raja Singh's suspension to target the BJP and ask why it has not acted against Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who has also made controversial speeches.

Hindutva supporters accuse BJP of "not backing Raja Singh," who doesn't get along with many Telangana BJP leaders.

Raja Singh's Background

In other parts of India, Raja Singh is among the BJP's best known faces from Telangana due to controversial remarks and social media following among the Hindutva constituency.

He was also the party's sole winner in the 2018 Assembly elections, when several top leaders, including Kishan Reddy and K Laxman, lost their seats.

However, within Telangana, his popularity outside of his seat Goshamahal, is quite limited. This is largely to do with the fact that he is a Hindi speaker and not a Telugu speaker. He belongs to the Lodh Rajput caste, originally from north India. Many members of this community had migrated to Hyderabad during the Nizam's period.

His seat Goshamahal, the only Hindu dominated seat in Hyderabad's old city, mostly comprises Hindi, Marathi, and Marwari speakers. Raja Singh has very limited influence among the Telugu speaking population of Telangana. This would hold true even in the case of Munugode, which will vote in an upcoming bypoll. Nalgonda district is not known for communal polarisation, unlike some parts of northern Telangana.

Here BJP's strategy was to focus on winning over the Congress base through defecting MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy. The Raja Singh controversy actually isn't very helpful in this context.

In fact, the arrest of Raja Singh as well as a few local Muslims is being used by TRS to showcase KCR as having 'cracked down across the board to restore peace in Hyderabad'. This may be the narrative the TRS pushes to counter the impact of polarisation ahead of the bypoll.

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