HYDERABAD : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set itself the target of doubling the party’s primary membership from 1.8 million to 3.6 million in the coming days (please specify timeframe). The party also aims to replace the Congress and become an alternative for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state.

The BJP, which had won only one assembly seat out of the 119 in Telangana in the December 2018 elections, has been re-energized after winning four Lok Sabha seats out of 17 in the 2019 general elections. The TRS, which had won 88 assembly seats in 2018 and had expected to win most of the parliamentary seats, got just nine. The Congress won three.

The unexpected results have given a boost to the BJP, which aims to capitalize on the situation.

“The state leaders had set a target of getting 12 lakh (1.2 million) new members, but BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah, who met them on Saturday after flagging off the membership drive in Telangana, said that we have to get an additional 18 lakh (1.8 million). It is a very encouraging atmosphere for the BJP in Telangana. Our party workers in the local polling booth committees will go house-to-house to campaign across the state for the membership drive," said a BJP leader, who did not want to be quoted.

Telangana’s BJP unit was recently called for a meeting by the BJP’s central leadership, where they were informed that the party is specifically looking at Telangana and West Bengal for major growth politically, he said.

The Congress has become very weak following the 2018 Assembly elections after 12 of its 18 MLAs defected to the TRS, which now has 103 members. A handful of senior Congress leaders such as former home minister of unified Andhra Pradesh D.K. Aruna and Ponguleti Sudharkar Reddy switched sides to the BJP as well before the Lok Sabha elections.

“We have seen the amount of effort the BJP has put in Kerala and West Bengal. They tried to succeed in Tamil Nadu too, but unfortunately religion doesn’t work for them there, that is why the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won in a big way. There is huge potential In Telangana, but it doesn’t mean it will become a big force. There will always be an anti-TRS position, which is what the BJP wants to take over," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

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