For long, Telangana BJP leaders lay impaled on the horns of a Hamletian dilemma. They were not sure if they were friends or foes to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). This is precisely the reason why they could not go for a frontal attack at the pink panthers, not knowing the mind of the party leadership in Delhi.

Though party president Amit Shah, in his recent visit to Telangana, told the Telangana leaders that TRS was their principal political rival in the elections, many of them were not ready to believe him. In fact, during his visit, several leaders in different contexts had raised the issue with him to the point of annoying him. He told them firmly that the BJP will have no alliance whether overt or covert with the TRS.

He told them that they were not a small party but was a national party which was in power at Delhi. They should get rid of the feeling that the TRS is invincible. He reminded them how BJP had shown the door to Manik Sircar’s regime in Tripura, where the saffron party did not even have two percent votes earlier. He told them that if they tried hard enough, the BJP could unseat the TRS in Telangana.

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Not knowing if the TRS is its rival in the elections, the BJP leaders remained passive even as Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao moved with lightning speed in dissolving the Assembly to pave the way for early elections. He lost no time in kick-starting the election campaign. The BJP leaders took it easy because of the buzz at Delhi that KCR and BJP top bosses were in touch over fast-paced developments in Telangana.

The BJP state leaders kept asking themselves If they were not friends, why should KCR support BJP for demonetisation, GST, presidential and vice-presidential elections, the candidature of JD(U) MP Harivansh Singh in the election to Deputy Chairman’s post in Rajya Sabha.

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Though Amit Shah had argued that the support came from TRS for BJP’s policy decisions because the regional party was against the Congress, the BJP leaders reportedly remained unconvinced.

Even when Chandrasekhar Rao said that TRS MPs supported Harivansh Singh, because the request came from his friend Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who belongs to JD(U) and not BJP though JD(U) is part of NDA, there were few takers for his line of argument.

There was no convincing argument as to why KCR had not announced candidates for four of the five Assembly seats held by the BJP in the Telangana assembly and field one who lost to BJP candidate ignominiously in 2014.

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But Amit Shah had dismissed this line of reasoning as hogwash and that the BJP will be taking over the TRS by its horns in the electoral battle that lies ahead. He wanted the cadres to be prepared for a tough fight with the TRS and asked them to exploit two issue to the BJP’s advantage – KCR’s reluctance to celebrate Telangana Liberation Day on Sept 17 and the promise of 12 per cent reservations to Muslims which he said would hurt the interests of the BCs and Dalits.

Two issues apparently are intended to pit the Hindus against the Muslims which of course the party’s line has been anyway. By saying so, he allowed a peek through the window into the party’s long-term thinking of wresting Telangana on anti-Muslim sentiment though for the time being the saffron party may remain a friend with the TRS, wearing a burqa. #KhabarLive