Hyderabad: There is a strong buzz in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) circles that Swami Paripoornananda of the Shree Peetham in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, is set to join the party in Telangana. The Hindu seer was in the news in July after being barred from Hyderabad by the city police for six months for making allegedly incendiary statements against minorities.

State-level BJP leaders, while maintaining that Paripoornananda has not yet joined the party officially, said that his joining will give the BJP a new Hindutva face, like Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. A senior leader from the BJP’s Telangana unit, who did not want to be named, said that Paripoornananda will polarize votes across Muslim-dominated assembly constituencies in Hyderabad.

In September, the high court stayed the externment order on Paripoornananda, after which the seer returned to Hyderabad -- to a rousing welcome from the BJP, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other right-wing organizations. “There has been no formal meeting between us and Swamiji. But one thing is for sure, that he wants to join politics. Given his saffron background, joining the BJP will be a natural choice for him," said the BJP leader quoted above.

He added that if he joins, Paripoornananda might contest from the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat in 2019, which is considered to be a bastion of the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). Owaisi is the incumbent MP, and the AIMIM has been winning the seat since 1984.

“There is no confirmation on Paripoornananda joining the BJP now. It is just speculation, but if he decides to join our party then we will welcome him," said BJP MLC N. Ramchander Rao.

Assembly elections in Telangana will be held on 7 December. It was advanced after chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the 119-member assembly on 6 September. The results will be declared on 11 December, along with those of the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizozam.

In the 2014 elections, the BJP in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won five of the 119 assembly seats in Telangana. However, the TDP this time is part of a grand alliance of the Congress, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), which means the BJP will be fighting against both the alliance and the TRS. The BJP does not have a pre-poll alliance.

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