Why all BJP big guns, from Modi to Nadda, put weight behind Telangana chief after his arrest

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Hyderabad: A long line of top BJP leaders, including party president J.P. Nadda, Union minister Bhagwanth Khuba, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, headed south to Telangana this month to protest against the “undemocratic” arrest of state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay for allegedly violating Covid-19 norms during an agitation.

The BJP does not have much of a presence in the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-ruled state, but, according to political observers, the party has smelled an opportunity in Sanjay’s arrest.

The BJP’s fire-and-brimstone reaction also makes for an interesting contrast to the Congress’s lukewarm response when Uttar Pradesh party chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was arrested, also for alleged procedural violations while staging a protest, in December 2021.

In a late-night drama on 2 January, the police arrested Telangana BJP chief and Member of Parliament Bandi Sanjay from the party’s office in Karimanagar. He was staging a protest against a controversial government order (GO-317) transferring teachers and government employees in the state.

The sections under which Sanjay, along with 11 others, was booked included those pertaining to violation of Covid-19 norms regarding gatherings. Sanjay was also accused of assaulting a public servant during the fracas.

The BJP immediately called for state-wide protests, and when the court remanded Sanjay in custody for 14 days, the party’s central leadership went all out and sent top leaders to take up a crusade or “dharma yuddh” (to use Nadda’s words) in Telangana.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Sanjay over the phone after his release and asked him to continue his fight against the state’s K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) government.

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