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Muslim votes in Telangana may split between BRS, Congress

Muslim votes in Telangana may split between BRS, Congress

Hyderabad: Muslim votes are likely to play a crucial role in the outcome of Telangana Assembly elections scheduled to be held on November 30.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and Congress, both major contenders of power, are trying to woo Muslim voters, who are in a position to influence the outcome in 45 out of 119 constituencies.

With the support of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and secular image, BRS has an advantage but Congress is hopeful that Telangana will replicate Karnataka, where Muslims overwhelmingly supported it.

Minorities constitute 14 per cent of the state’s 3.26 crore voters. Muslims alone account for 12.7 percent while Christians are 1.3 percent.

Muslim voters form 50 per cent or more in the seven constituencies held by MIM in Hyderabad. Before delimitation in 2009, MIM used to win five seats but its tally increased to seven.

The Muslim electorate are also in good numbers in other constituencies like Maheshwaram, Rajendra Nagar, Jubilee Hills, Khairatabad, Amberpet, Musheerabad, Secunderabad and Sanathnagar, all in Greater Hyderabad.

Outside Hyderabad, Muslim voters are in substantial numbers in 29 Assembly constituencies. Segments like Nizamabad Urban, Zaheerabad, Bodhan, Mahboobnagar, Sangareddy, Adilabad, Warangal East, Karimnagar, Banswada, Tandur, Vikarabad, Nirmal and Mudhole have 15 per cent or more votes.

For more than four decades MIM focussed on retaining its strongholds in the old city of Hyderabad. The party had traditionally supported the Congress party in united Andhra Pradesh.

The Asaduddin Owaisi-led party had also backed the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. However, after the death of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy in 2009 and due to subsequent developments in the state, MIM snapped its ties with the Congress in 2011.

The MIM later started fielding its candidates in other states and it came under attack from Congress and other parties for dividing secular votes and thus helping the BJP.

The MIM, which was not in favour of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, came closer to TRS (now BRS) after formation of Telangana state and later joined hands with the KCR’s party.

Satisfied with the secular track-record of BRS and its initiatives for the development of Muslims, the MIM has once again declared its support to BRS.

Barring nine constituencies where it has fielded its constituencies, the MIM has urged the community to vote for BRS, which is aiming for a hat-trick.

Under BRS, Telangana remained free from any major communal riot or problems like mob lynching, Hijab or Halal.

Barring seven seats which MIM has been winning since 2009, Congress has given tickets to only two Muslim candidates including former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin (Jubilee Hills). BRS has once again given ticket to sitting MLA Mohammed Shakil Aamir from Bodhan.

The other Congress candidate is senior leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir from Nizamabad Urban.

Political analysts say that Muslim votes this time may get divided between BRS and Congress.

Muslim United Forum, comprising some Muslim socio-religious groups considered close to MIM, has also declared support to BRS. However, some other groups like Jamiatul Ulema and Tehreek-e-Muslim Shabban have come out in support of the Congress party. There are some other groups like Jamaat-e-Islami who have not yet taken a clear stand in support of any party.

The BRS, during its poll campaign, is highlighting maintenance of peace and communal harmony as a major achievement to seek the support of Muslims

While addressing election rallies with good concentration of Muslim voters, Chief Minister KCR and his son and BRS working president KTR speak in Urdu to explain how their party is maintaining ‘Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb’.

The BRS leaders are also cautioning people that power to Congress may push the state back into the era of communal clashes and curfews.

The BRS also claims to have spent Rs.12,780 crore on minority welfare in 10 years. It says the minority welfare budget which was Rs.1,030 crore in 2014-15 increased to Rs.2,200 crore in 2023-24.

The ruling party also claims to have implemented a number of measures for educational development of minorities, mainly establishment of residential schools and colleges. It says that 1.31 lakh minority students are studying in 409 residential schools and colleges. It has promised that if it retains power, 204 residential junior colleges will be upgraded to residential degree colleges.

Another measure which BRS is showcasing in its campaign is financial support of Rs.1.16 lakh for marriage of poor minority girls under the scheme ‘Shadi Mubarak’.

However, the allegation by the Congress party that there is secret understanding among BJP, BRS and MIM seems to be impacting the opinion in some sections of the community.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have been targeting MIM for helping BJP by fielding its candidates in states where the Congress is locked in direct fight with the BJP. They questioned why MIM is contesting only nine seats in Telangana.

State Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy is also slamming MIM for fielding a Muslim candidate in Jubilee Hills constituency to divide Muslim votes and defeat Azharuddin.

The Congress leaders also say that BRS is only paying ‘lip sympathy’ for minorities. “BRS has done nothing concrete for the development of minorities. What happened to its promise of increasing minority reservation to 12 per cent,” asked senior Congress leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir, who is contesting election from Nizamabad Urban constituency.

He recalled that it was during Congress party’s rule that backward Muslims were provided four per cent reservation and this has helped thousands of Muslim boys and girls to become doctors and engineers.

The Congress has announced ‘minority declaration’ to woo minority voters. It promised that if voted to power it will ensure fair reservation for all backward classes including minorities in jobs, education and government welfare schemes.

It promised to increase the minority budget to Rs.4,000 crore. The Congress has assured that it will provide Rs.1,000 crore annually to facilitate subsidized loans for jobless minority youth and women.

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TAGS:CongressTelanganaOwaisiAIMIMAssembly electionsChandrashekhar RaoBRS
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