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How Modi is helping Owaisi retain Hyderabad seat

April 09, 2014 08:18 IST

How Modi is helping Owaisi retain Hyderabad seat

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Vicky Nanjappa in Hyderabad

The MIM MP from Hyderabad has managed to instil a sense of insecurity in the minds of the people as he appeals to them to vote for him so that ‘communal forces’ under Modi are kept in check. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

The city of Hyderabad has been the epicentre of the Telangana movement and now with the issue resolved and the poll dates approaching the question is whether the statehood sentiment will play a role in the Lok Sabha elections here or not.

Life goes on as usual and despite there being a large number of people who continue to rejoice the formation of a new state, the fact remains that Telangana is not really a poll issue.

The only issue connected to the bifurcation has been the apprehension of some settlers from Seema-Andhra who worry about their safety. Although Hyderabad will continue to be a joint capital for ten years there are questions that people ask about their future once this period gets over.

Looking at the campaign in Hyderabad, one gets the impression that only one party is contesting the elections from this parliamentary constituency. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has been winning this seat for several years now and the scenario does not appear to be any different this time around.

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Image: Asaduddin Owaisi campaigns in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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'Send me to Parliament to keep communal forces in check'

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There are 16 lakh voters in this constituency of which 65 per cent are minorities, and this is a factor that will help the MIM this time too.

There are two major points that MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi makes when he sets out on a campaign. He assures the settlers from Seema-Andhra of their safety, at times even threatening an ‘iron fist’ to deal with the people who disturb the peace.

The second point he makes is with regard to Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi. Owaisi has managed to instil a sense of insecurity in the minds of the people and states that Hyderabad will be under the control of the Union government for ten years, hinting that Modi will take charge as the prime minister.

Then the firebrand politician adds, “There is a need for me to be in Parliament with the maximum number of seats and votes in order to counter the communal forces”.

Strange but true, in this case, the Modi factor is in fact helping Owaisi to get more Muslim votes from Hyderabad.

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Image: Asaduddin Owaisi speaks to mediapersons in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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Other parties putting up a lacklustre contest

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He even had a blessing in disguise when the editor of Siasat, Zahid Ali Khan, decided not contest the elections. Khan later quit the Telugu Desam Party over the alliance with the BJP. Khan had given quite a fight to Owaisi in the 2009 elections and with him out of the race it would only mean that the Muslim votes in Hyderabad are not split.

It could be safely said that the other parties have been extremely lacklustre when it comes to Hyderabad. It looks as though they have already given up before the battle has even begun.

None of the other parties have put up candidates who could give the MIM a tough fight which once again gives the indication that they have conceded this seat already.

The BJP, which has been given Hyderabad as part of the seat sharing arrangement with the TDP, too is undecided on its candidate. Like all other parties they too feel that posting a candidate here would only result in making him or her a scapegoat. The fact that the MIM has held this seat for nearly three decades now also is an added factor for the rest of the parties putting up a lacklustre fight.

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Image: Owaisi addressing his supporters in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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'Telangana wave' won't benefit TRS much in Hyderabad

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Meanwhile, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which is looking to ride on the Telangana wave, is not sure about winning from Hyderabad.

They would focus on the rest of the state and are aware that this wave is not existent in the capital.

The MIM has not known to be too friendly towards the Telangana cause and had opposed it several times, but this too has not gone against them despite Hyderabad technically being a part of Telangana.

Like every other election year there are a couple of Muslims who complain about the development projects undertaken under Owaisi. The Old City, which is the largest vote bank for the MIM, continues to remain underdeveloped and people speak about the same issues that they did in 2004 and 2009.

It’s interesting that Muslim voters of the constituency have often complained against Owaisi, but somehow their displeasure doesn’t get reflected in the verdict. This time, however, the talk of developmental issues is not that high on the agenda of the Muslims of Hyderabad.

Karim, who runs a hotel near Charminar, says that they fear for their safety and with the likelihood of the BJP taking over at the Centre, the fears have only increased.

“Development is one issue and that can be addressed even after the elections, but it is our priority to vote for the MIM at both the assembly and parliamentary segments,” he says.

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Image: TRS president K Chnadrashekar Rao and other leaders releasing the party manifesto in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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MIM needs to strike a balance to expand outside Hyderabad

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The MIM knows well that its major support base is the Muslim votes. However, this time around Owaisi is looking to expand the base and in order to do this he needs to show that the MIM is not just a Muslim party.

The three candidates who form part of the list for the parliamentary segment are all non-Muslims. Malkajgiri will see MIM candidate Sridhar Dharani Kota, Motilal from Bhongir and Venkata Narayana Reddy from Nandyal.

What the MIM intends to do is have a mix of candidates and approach the assembly and parliamentary segments differently.

The MIM has most of the candidates in the assembly segments from the Muslim community whereas in the Lok Sabha segment it has opted for several non-Muslims.

The MIM wants to expand but at the same time doesn’t want to go too aggressive on the playing the non-Muslim card. It is aware that too much of non-Muslim politics would reduce its vote bank and hence Owaisi has sought to strike this balance. 


Image: Charminar in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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