The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) looks to continue its sway in the seven Assembly seats it currently holds in the Telangana Assembly.
Going by the past record and the voting, the party appears to be invincible in the Muslim-majority constituencies covering the old city of Hyderabad.
Like in the past, AIMIM began its campaign ahead of others. For the last few days, party President Asaduddin Owaisi has been addressing public meetings with the title ‘Jalsa-e-Halat-e-Hazera’ or meeting on current affairs to build the tempo.
He appealed to the people to remain united and protect the political platform so that the AIMIM continued to raise their voice in the legislature and fight to resolve their problems.
Owaisi is confident that the BJP will never be able to come to power in Telangana. “Our Hindu brothers from the Dalit community and backward classes want peace and communal harmony to prevail in Telangana,” he said while addressing one such meeting.
Such has been the domination of the AIMIM in Hyderabad politics for over four decades that its stronghold remained immune to the political waves and change of guard in the state.
It’s often said that all political waves stop at Nayapul, one of the bridges across the Musi river which connects old Hyderabad to the rest of the city.
No matter which party came to power in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh, the support base of Owaisi’s party remained intact.
There has been no change after Telangana was carved out as a separate state in 2014. Despite the reservations the Asaduddin Owaisi-led party had over the division of Andhra Pradesh, the party adapted itself to the new political scenario dominated by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which recently rechristened itself as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS).
While maintaining its firm grip over the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency and the seven Muslim majority Assembly segments in the city, the AIMIM backed the TRS in the rest of the state in both the 2014 and 2019 elections.
This friendship and the secular image of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao helped the TRS in securing the support of the Muslims, who constitute about 12 per cent of the state’s 4 crore population.
With a huge concentration of Muslim voters in state capital Hyderabad and some other districts, they are in a position to tilt the balance in nearly half of the 119 Assembly constituencies.
Muslim voters are believed to be between 35 and 60 per cent in 10 constituencies in Hyderabad and anywhere between 10 to 40 per cent in 50 other constituencies spread across the rest of the state.
Except the eight Assembly constituencies where AIMIM candidates were in the fray, the party backed TRS in all the remaining constituencies.
While the AIMIM’s political opponents accuse the party of pursuing communal politics, KCR on many occasions defended his friend and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. He lauded the AIMIM chief for fighting for the Constitutional rights of Muslims in a democratic manner.
The BJP, which is going aggressive to capture power in Telangana, has been targeting KCR for his friendship with Owaisi and accusing the TRS leader of pursuing the politics of appeasement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and other central leaders of the BJP have slammed KCR for appeasement. Digging up the past, the state leadership of the saffron party has been launching bitter attacks on the AIMIM, calling it a party of razakars’.
Razakars’ were the volunteers or supporters of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), the party which backed the Nizam who wanted to keep Hyderabad State independent after India gained independence in 1947.
Thirteen months after India’s independence, Hyderabad State acceded to the Indian Union following India’s military action codenamed Operation Polo’.
The MIM was founded in 1927 to promote the socio-economic and educational development of Muslims. After Operation Polo’ hastened the accession of Hyderabad State to the Indian Union in 1948, the MIM was banned.
However, in 1958 it was revived with a new constitution by Moulana Abdul Wahid Owaisi, grandfather of Asaduddin Owaisi. Abdul Wahid Owaisi, a lawyer, converted it into a political party to fight for the rights of the minorities as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
“Razakars have gone. Those who love the country remained here,” says Asaduddin Owaisi in response to the BJP’s taunt of Razakars’.
He dismisses allegations of pursuing communal politics and maintains that the AIMIM believes in the Indian Constitution and has been fighting for the Constitutional rights of the minorities, Dalits and others.
The AIMIM made its electoral debut in 1959, winning two municipal by-elections in Hyderabad. In 1960, it emerged as the main opposition party in Hyderabad.
Abdul Wahed Owaisi’s son Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was among the party leaders elected to the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH).
The party underwent an image makeover in the 1980s when Salahuddin Owaisi made three Hindu corporators of the party the mayors of Hyderabad. Those were the days when Hyderabad used to witness frequent communal tension.
From municipal wards in the old city of Hyderabad to two Lok Sabha seats in 2019, the AIMIM has come a long way in its six-decade-long journey in independent India.
More than three decades after first winning the Hyderabad seat, the party expanded itself in a true sense in 2019 by wresting the Aurangabad seat in Maharashtra from the Shiv Sena.
A party confined to the old city of Hyderabad till a few years ago, the AIMIM was ridiculed by its rivals for calling itself an all India party.
The party now has 10 MLAs — seven in Telangana, two in Maharashtra and one in Bihar. Its tally of MLAs was 14 but four MLAs in Bihar recently switched loyalties to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
While continuing its efforts to expand to various states, the AIMIM is treading cautiously to check the BJP’s surge in Telangana.
In a tactical move aimed at stopping the BJP from politically exploiting emotive issues like September 17, the AIMIM for the first time in its history celebrated the day last year as national integration day.
It was on September 17, 1948 that Hyderabad State was merged with the Indian Union. The AIMIM always opposed celebrating the day on the ground that there is only one independence day for the entire country.
The BJP had been targeting the TRS for not officially celebrating Telangana Liberation Day’ due to pressure from Owaisi.
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