The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently turned a municipal election into a national one and succeeded in making inroads into a bastion of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the party in power in Telangana. This Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election mattered to the BJP for several reasons. First, the party uses any opportunity to anchor itself in a region that has so far resisted its dominance. In recent state and national elections, the BJP had already set foot in Hyderabad. It received 18% of the votes in Hyderabad district in the 2018 assembly election and 34% in the general elections the following year (27% in Secunderabad and 42% in Hyderabad).
Second, Hyderabad is not only a bastion of a former ally of the BJP – the TRS – but also the home base of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), which rattled the BJP in the recent Bihar election. Taking the fight to AIMIM’s home turf provided an opportunity for the party to send some strong signals to its Hindu base. The campaign for Bhagyanagar, the BJP’s proposed new name for the city, was one such.