Telangana election 2023: Raja Singh unlikely to get BJP ticket

Hyderabad: Suspended Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh is unlikely to contest the upcoming Telangana state elections as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate as his suspension won’t be lifted any time soon by the party’s central leadership. It has been learnt that the firebrand Hindutva MLA is in fact likely to be given a Lok Sabha ticket next year from Zaheerabad.

Sources from the BJP told that M Vikram Goud, son of the late ex-Congress minister Mukesh Goud, is likely to be the BJP’s Goshamahal candidate. As of now, the Raja Singh is still suspended from the BJP thanks to the controversy and unrest he caused in Hyderabad last year due to his remarks on Prophet Muhammad. He was immediately suspended from the BJP, and he still remains to be so. The MLA has been running campaigns outside the state as he also faces a gag order from the high court.

According to BJP sources, there are more than a few contenders for the Goshamahal constituency for the upcoming Telangana state election, which is scheduled to be held at the end of 2023. In the previous 2018 polls, Vikram Goud’s father had contested and lost to Raja Singh in a triangular contest along with the Bharata Rashtra Samithi (then TRS) candidate. “I will be a strong contender from the BJP if the party decides to give me a ticket,” said Vikram, when contacted.

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Vikram along with his father were both in the Congress for many years, until the former decided to shift to the BJP a few years ago. Mukesh Goud was a three-time MLA, and lost to BJP’s Raja Singh in 2014 and in 2018. The ex-Congress minister passed away in 2019. Before Raja Singh first won the Goshamahal seat, he was in the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which he eventually left for the BJP.

“Raja Singh will mostly contest as a Lok Sabha candidate from the Zaheerabad seat in the 2024 Parliament polls. The suspension will be lifted just before the elections,” stated the BJP source. Other BJP leaders from Telangana also earlier told this reporter that the the decision to lift Raja Singh’s suspension has to come from the party’s central leadership, which had issued the order last year. There are demands from within the saffron party here to lift his suspension as well.

Public meetings outside Hyderabad

With restrictions on him, Raja Singh is currently unable to carry out political campaigns or hold public rallies as he would have ideally done in the run-up to the polls. The legislator is currently out on bail after he was arrested for his derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad last year, which led to several protests. Raja Singh has been subverting his restrictions by passing communal and inflammatory remarks from outside the state.

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During a speech at a public meeting held at T Kamgar Maidan in Maharashtra recently, Raja Singh used repeated his typical aggressive rant and provocative language. His comments were about inter-faith love affairs. “The chingari (spark) that is lit here will turn into a jwalamukhi (volcano) if love and land Jihad is not stopped. Be aware of ‘love jihad’ and (religious) conversions,” he said while addressing the gathering.

Raja Singh’s hate speech came at a rally in Mumbai at a programme organised by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, a conglomerate of Hindutva organisations under the banner of the Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha. It commenced from Shivaji Park in Dadar and ended at Kamgar Maidan in Parel. The Sakal Hindu Samaj is an organization comprising of various groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha.

Prophet Muhammad remarks case

Cases were registered against Raja Singh for passing derogatory statements against Prophet Muhammad that brought the city to the verge of a communal riot last year. Raja Singh released a video with his objectionable remarks after the state government allowed comedian Munawar Faruqui, who had performed a comedy set about Hindu gods earlier, to hold a show in the city.

Raja Singh
Protests against Raja Singh in Old City [Photo: Shaik Nizamuddin Laeeq]

The BJP MLA’s video led to several protests for over two days, after which the Hyderabad police put him in prison. Senior police officials said that they are keeping tabs on him after his release as well. The suspended BJP MLA was detained under the Preventive Detention (PD) Act by the Hyderabad police last year. After spending nearly three months in the Central Prison, Cherlapally, he was released after the High Court quashed his detention orders.

In the 2018 Telangana state elections, Raja Singh was the only BJP candidate who managed to win. Out of the 119 Assembly seats, the ruling TRS (now BRS) won 88, while the Congress (which formed a grand alliance with other opposition parties) managed to win just 19 seats.