Telangana polls: Can BRS topple BJP’s Raja Singh in Goshamahal?

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: Goshamahal was the only Assembly seat won by the BJP in 2018 and it has been in the news due to the controversies created by MLA T. Raja Singh with his hate speeches.

Raja Singh has entered the fray in a bid for a third consecutive victory from this constituency in central Hyderabad.

This time the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is going all out to defeat Raja Singh as the party leaders see his anti-Muslim utterances as a ‘blot’ on Hyderabad and Telangana’s secular image under BRS rule.

BRS projecting ‘communal harmony’

The BRS, which is looking for a third consecutive term in power, has been projecting communal harmony and peace as its main achievements during the last 10 years. It showcases Hyderabad as the best model of ‘Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb’ with people belonging to various faiths living in harmony.

The ruling party leaders are concerned over the impact Raja Singh’s hate speeches can have on communal harmony. BRS working president K. T. Rama Rao is confident that the party will wrest Goshamahal.

Notorious for his hate speeches, the BJP MLA had made certain derogatory comments last year about Prophet Muhammad, triggering massive protests.

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The BJP had suspended Raja Singh from the party over his comments. He was arrested by the Hyderabad police but on the same day a city court had granted him bail.

Amid the continuing protests, he was again arrested and sent to jail on August 25 after the Hyderabad police commissioner invoked the Preventive Detention (PD) Act.

According to the police, Raja Singh, a rowdy sheeter of Mangalhat police station, has been habitually delivering provocative and inflammatory speeches and driving a wedge between communities, leading to public disorder.

As per the order issued by the police, a total of 101 criminal cases have been registered against him since 2004. He was involved in 18 communal offences in the limits of different police stations in Hyderabad.

Raja Singh was released in November after the Telangana High Court set aside the PD Act proceedings against him. The court, however, asked the MLA not to make any provocative speeches against any religion or post any derogatory or offensive posts on any social media platform.

However, Raja Singh continued delivering hate speeches during religious rallies in other states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Last month, the BJP revoked the suspension of Raja Singh and the party fielded him again from Goshamahal.

75 criminal cases against Raja Singh

According to the affidavit submitted by him while filing his nomination this week, Raja Singh has 75 criminal cases against him. Most of them are hate speech cases booked in different parts of Telangana and other states.

The number of cases against him in 2018 was 43 including 38 hate speech cases.

Raja Singh, who was a corporator from Mangalhat, was first elected as MLA in 2014, defeating Congress heavyweight and former minister M. Mukesh Goud by a big margin of 46,793 votes. Raja Singh had polled 92,757 votes (58.9%) while Mukesh Goud secured 45,964 votes (29.2%).

Goshamahal contest

This time the BRS has fielded Nand Kishore Vyas while the Congress has fielded Mahila Congress president Mogili Sunitha.

Nand Kishore Vyas had contested as an independent candidate in 2014 and was a distant third with 7,123 votes (4.49%). Prem Kumar Dhoot of the TRS (now BRS) had finished fourth with only 6,312 votes (3.98%). This was the first election after the Bill for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was passed in Parliament and the TRS did not have much presence in Hyderabad.

In 2018, the TRS emerged as a strong force in Goshamahal but this was not enough to defeat Raja Singh, who retained the seat by a majority of 17,734 votes. He polled 61,854 votes (45.18%) while Prem Singh Rathore of the TRS finished runner-up with 44,120 votes (32.23%). Mukesh Goud of the Congress was a distant third with 26,322 votes (19.23%).

Prem Singh Rathore was elected to the Assembly in 1999 on a BJP ticket from Maharajgunj, as the constituency was known before delimitation in 2009. The constituency, where the majority of the 2.7 lakh voters are migrant businessmen from Rajasthan, Gujarat and other states, had first elected a BJP candidate (Ramaswamy) in 1994. The Lodha community, to which Raja Singh belongs, is the dominant migrant population.

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