Tejasvi Surya had called Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls the BJP's gateway to the south
Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay has threatened "surgical strike" on "intruders" in the Old City area of Hyderabad in what is turning out to be a hugely divisive campaign for the city's mayoral elections. "Intruders" was a reference to illegal Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Rohingyas who allegedly live in the city.
"You want to win the election using the illegal votes of intruders. That is against the interest of the country. We will throw them all out once we elect a BJP Mayor for Hyderabad," he said.
The phrase "surgical strike" was coined for the army strikes on terror bases across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016. The application of the term to the people in Hyderabad drew a strong response from the state's ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
Just for the sake of votes, the BJP is talking about surgical strikes that would sacrifice the life of Hyderabadis, said municipal administration minister KT Rama Rao. "We need surgical strikes against poverty, corruption and crimes against women, not against Hyderabadis, "he added.
Bandi Sanjay, the MP from Karimnagar known for his aggressive remarks, said he would expand the scope of the "surgical strike" to attack "robbers" who are looting Telangana through "contractors, real estate, land grabbers and even drug mafia". "Our surgical strike is also against mis-governance and family rule," he added.
Mocking the BJP leader's statement, AIMIM leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi asked why no surgical strike was conducted against the Chinese in Ladakh's Galwan Valley. "Who will you do a surgical strike on? The Chinese force PLA is occupying 970 square km in Ladakh... they won't even take their name," Mr Owaisi said.
"Tell us how many Pakistanis or Rohingyas are here. Remember, whoever is in Hyderabad -- Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Sikh, Christian -- are all Indians. We won't let Pakistanis here," he added.
The BJP, he said, doesn't want to talk about development or local issues. "They want to create fissures," added Mr Owaisi, who had been the target to BJP youth wing leader Tejasvi Surya's highly divisive speech yesterday.
"Another says if you vote for Owaisi, it is a vote against country... a new avatar of Jinnah. Let me tell you. We did not follow Jinnah... That is why we stayed here. Because we rejected his proposal and stayed to make this our country," Mr Owaisi said without naming Mr Surya.
Yesterday, Mr Surya had referred to Mr Owaisi as "Jinnah's new avatar" in a divisive speech that's seen as a reflection of the BJP ire over the AIMIM's victory in five seats in the recently concluded Bihar elections.
"Owaisi is Jinnah's new avatar. We must defeat him. Every single vote you give BJP is a vote for Bharat, Hindutva, to make country stronger. A vote for Owaisi -- and tell this to every single Indian -- is a vote against India and everything that India stands for," Mr Surya had said.
The BJP, Mr Owaisi said, wants to make Hyderabad, the world famous software centre, into Bhagyanagar. "Hyderabad is our identity. Our culture. Inclusiveness. They want to change all that. We won't let them do it," he said.
The Hyderabad civic polls have become a high-stake election after the BJP victory in the Dubbaka assembly seat, a stronghold of the ruling TRS. The party, which is yet to consolidate its base in the state, is hoping to use it as a platform.