Yogi Adityanath began his poll campaign in Telangana today.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath started his campaigning in Telangana today with a warning for AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) leader Asaduddin Owaisi. "If BJP comes to power, I assure you Owaisi will have to flee from Telangana the same way Nizam was forced to flee from Hyderabad," said Yogi Adityanath, one of the star campaigners of the BJP, who landed in Hyderabad this morning in the last leg of campaigning.
Mr Owaisi has been a staunch critic of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, who was once the poster boy of hardline right-wing groups. He had called out Yogi Adityanath over several issues, including the one saying many postures of "surya namaskar" in yoga closely resembled that of "namaz".
Yogi Adityanath's recent statement that the Congress needs just the votes of Muslims, irked Mr Owaisi too. "You keep your Ali, for us Bajrang Bali will be enough," the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister reportedly said. Ali was a successor of the Prophet Muhammad. Mr Owaisi had remarked that the Chief Minister had "crossed all limits".
The BJP – which won only 9 of Telangana's 119 seats in 2014 — in is going it alone in the state after feelers sent by its state leaders to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao for an alliance fell flat.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader has gravitated towards Mr Owaisi — whose party is seen to have considerable influence in the Old City of Hyderabad. Their support for each other has grown as the Congress forged an alliance with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for the elections in Telangana.
Mr Owaisi's party is expected to hold the keys to government formation in case a split verdict. In 2009, the AIMIM had contested and won 7 seats in undivided Andhra Pradesh. It retained all seven in Telangana in 2014.
On September 6 – the day he dissolved the 119-member Telangana Assembly, KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, had first described AIMIM as a "friendly party".
Mr Owaisi had reciprocated, addressing a campaign meeting in Nirmal town in support of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi. "I feel that the TRS has a very good chance of coming back (to power), and I see KCR becoming chief minister again," he was later quoted as saying by news agency PTI.