Mahabubnagar—The Telangana assembly polls on December 7 will be a crucial test for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is contesting alone unlike in 2014, to gain a foothold in the southern state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In 2014, the BJP fought the polls along with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and won five seats out of the 119 at stake. All the five--Uppal, Musheerabad, Amberpet, Goshamahal and LB Nagar constituencies--were in Hyderabad.
Although the ruling TRS and the Congress-led grand alliance 'Praja Kutami' which also comprised the TDP, the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and the CPI appear to be the main rivals in most of the assembly seats, the BJP is making a determined bid to make its presence felt and increase the seat tally in the country's newest state formed in 2014.
Poll analysts said the BJP could also hurt the prospects of the Congress in a few assembly segments.
The elections are being mainly fought on local issues with the performance of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government coming under intense scrutiny. TRS got a majority in 2014 riding on the wave of the emotional Telangana sentiment.
"BJP has a strong hold in Telangana. Traditionally, our voter share has been high in the Hyderabad region. Definitely, our percentage of votes will increase this time," BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao told PTI.
People of Telangana will look to the BJP as a "real alternative" to the TRS both in ideological and political terms, he said, adding any "anti-TRS space" will not be occupied by the Congress.
According to a senior BJP functionary, there will be a direct fight between the party and the TRS in constituencies such as Nizamabad (urban), Kalwakurty (Mahabubnagar district), Bhuvanagiri (Nalgonda district) and Mahbubabad (Warangal district).
The functionary also said the BJP is making all out efforts to woo the "fence sitters" who may not be inclined to go with the TRS or the Congress-led alliance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were among the top BJP leaders who had campaigned in the state.
In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP and the TDP had a pre-poll alliance and the former contested in 45 seats, out of which it won five.
The TDP won 15 seats out of the 72 it fought(12 of its MLAs, however, switched over to the TRS and one to the Congress later). The TRS came to power winning 63 seats.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the TRS won 11 of the 17 seats