Hydearbad: Taking a cue from the Gujarat election results, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will concentrate on consolidating its urban vote bank in Telangana for the 2019 assembly elections, and will stick to its core Hindutva ideology in the state.

These were two of the decisions taken at the party’s two-day Chintan Baithak held last week in Mahbubnagar district.

At the meeting, presided over by BJP’s national joint organizing secretary Saudhan Singh, suggestions were floated by Telangana unit leaders to declare assembly candidates as well as the chief ministerial candidate well ahead of the elections.

“Usually we announce names of ticket holders close to the election. This time our party leaders from Telangana suggested we do it before to instil confidence in our cadre. Some of them also said that people above 70 and those who contested and lost from seats more than three times should not be given tickets," said a senior BJP leader from Hyderabad, who did not wish to be identified. He added that one of the key issues facing the BJP in Telangana is the lack of a strong leader to lead the party.

“Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members also attended the meeting, and they also wanted us to stick to the basics, i.e. our ideology and to use Narendra Modi’s image," the BJP leader said. He conceded that the party in Telangana lacked resources when compared to other parties like the Congress or the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

The suggestions will be reported to BJP national president Amit Shah.

The BJP has so far failed to attract any strong leader from other parties. The party had expected a former Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA to join the party, but he went on to join the Congress, taking some state and district level leaders with him. As of now, the BJP has five MLAs in the 119-member assembly.

“The BJP is in a tricky situation in Telangana because they don’t have any other (apart from Hindutva) plank to stand on. They don’t have anything different from what the TRS is saying. They can’t talk about Modi or the Gujarat model here, nor can they question the TRS’s development agenda, because IT minister K. T. Rama Rao is being praised for his work in New Delhi," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Reddy noted that the Hindutva agenda will work only where the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen contests in the state.

BJP’s Telangana unit spokesperson A. Rakesh Reddy said that Shah is expected to visit the state in January to chalk out the party’s political strategy. “We are also going to take up public programmes against the TRS in the coming days," he told Mint.

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