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BJP firebrand ‘Tiger’ Singh leads in Hyderabad seat he has won since 2014

Hyderabad: BJP’s firebrand Telangana leader T. Raja Singh was 5,120 votes ahead of his nearest rival Nand Kishore Vyas of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi after seven rounds of counting. Congress’s Mogili Sunitha is in third place.

With a total of 266,919 registered voters, Goshamahal recorded a voting percentage of 55.38 on Thursday – the highest in the capital’s old city constituencies.

Unlike in the other seats in this part of the city, Muslims are a minority in this constituency with a voting population of about 70,000.

BJP reposed faith in Singh

Singh, who has won the seat for the BJP since 2014, had run afoul of the party leadership in August last year for alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed. The party suspended him and he was also jailed for two and a half months for the offence.

However, the BJP revoked Singh’s suspension as the nomination date drew closer, following declarations by the leader in August that he would quit politics if not given a BJP ticket.

Party insiders said former state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay had a hand in bringing Singh back into the fold.

Goshamahal was the only seat that the BJP managed to retain in 2018 while losing four other sitting seats. The victory was attributed to Singh’s popularity among voters and the severe communal polarisation in the constituency.

It is also the only non-AIMIM assembly seat under the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency that is held by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. These elections, the party did not field a candidate in Goshamahal – a move questioned by arch-BJP rival, the Congress.

Goshamahal’s Hindu residents told ThePrint that they voted Singh for his “pro-Hindutva stand” and support for the “Hindu Rashtra” cause.

Singh’s acolytes in his Dhoolpet office said the BJP leader has never sought the vote of Muslims. “This is true. He never comes near our houses, or asks for our votes,” said a Muslim physician at his clinic in Feelkhana, Begum Bazar.

‘Rabble rouser from humble beginnings’

“Tiger” Raja Singh Lodh, 46, rose from humble beginnings, starting his political career with the Telugu Desam Party as a municipal councilor in 2009.

After the state split, he joined the BJP and became MLA of Goshamahal in 2014. He was the only legislator, out of five sitting BJP MLAs, to retain the seat in 2018.

Known as a rabble rouser, the leader has frequently hit national headlines for his caustic speeches targeting Muslims.

The Hyderabad police describe him as a “habitual offender” who delivers “provocative and inflammatory speeches”. These, they say, have driven a “wedge between communities leading to public disorder”.

Of the 101 criminal cases registered against Singh since 2004, 18 are for communal offences.

While the Telangana High Court ordered his release last year, Singh was booked again in April for his remarks espousing Hindu Rashtra. He also targeted the minority community during a Ram Navami procession in Hyderabad.

Facebook had banned Singh in September 2020 and also removed him from Instagram – reportedly for promoting hate and violence. Singh’s objectionable statements also included those made against Rohingya Muslims.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)

Also read: Voting underway in 4 states, Kharge calls meeting of INDIA bloc on 6 December

Source: The Print

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