By Danish Ahmad Khan
The news of the formation of “Federal Front” by the twice elected chief minister of Telangana K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) with a small-time regional satrap and long-time Muslim leader from Telangana, Asaduddin Owaisi, for parliamentary elections in the state has come as no surprise to me as I saw it coming sooner or later. The reason given for the formation of front between KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Owaisi’s All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in the state is to fight both “BJP and Congress”. However, the reason given is simply laughable, at least for me, if not all. This news is both good and bad for me. Let me analyse this news in perspective.
When both the Telangana leaders have ganged up to fight the political tyranny of both BJP and Congress then both KCR and Owaisi must also give clarification to the people of the state that after all what were both doing when they extended support to the communal, Hindutva party BJP till now. While KCR directly supported BJP, Owaisi gave indirect support through his association and collaboration with KCR. This is nothing but a farce and befooling people, and the reason given is unpalatable and laughable.
This news is good to me because the two parties from the same state/region have at least made a start towards the formation of anti-BJP anti-Congress front for 2019 parliamentary elections. I have myself for long been advocating the need for pan India regional parties combine to give a tough fight to the Hindutva party BJP. This is therefore a welcome move.
This news is bad to me because I strongly feel that the don (or, should I say Tiger) of Old Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi, has been cornered and holed up in his own den (or, should I call fiefdom) by KCR. In a smart and tricky move, KCR first of all opened his coffers for the welfare of Muslims by launching several schemes and succeeded in winning the support of the community to a large extent, which was also evident during the recent assembly elections. Muslims chose to embrace KCR and rejected the so-called secular “Muslim” party Congress. Apart from Congress, another loser to KCR’s trickery was none other than Owaisi himself.
Owaisi’s party AIMIM had fielded candidates in eight (8) of the 119 assembly constituencies, and decided to support the TRS elsewhere. Asaduddin Owaisi had in fact campaigned for TRS candidates in some constituencies too. AIMIM succeeded in retaining its six (6) seats in Muslim-dominated Old Hyderabad and one (1) seat in Secunderabad, while it lost its additional eighth seat in Hindu-dominated Rajendranagar. By bagging seven seats (same as in previous assembly), the vote-share of AIMIM was 2.7%, while its rival BJP by winning just only one seat had a vote-share of 7%. TRS won the largest number of seats totalling 88 out of 119 with Owaisi’s support and got the vote-share of 46.9%.
In the 2014 elections, AIMIM contested in 35 assembly constituencies (20 in Telangana and 15 in Seemandhra) and six (6) parliamentary seats in undivided Andhra Pradesh, but was not able to win any extra seats and won the same seven Assembly seats and one lone Lok Sabha seat in Old Hyderabad city. However, it was quite surprising that AIMIM fielded eight candidates in 2018 assembly elections, a significant climb down from 2014, and managed to retain only seven seats it had in the previous assembly and lost its additional eighth seat. The climb down apparently showed that AIMIM gauged its waning strength and popularity among the people and preferred to play second fiddle to TRS instead by not contesting more seats than in 2014 state elections.
Had Asaduddin Owaisi sincerely wanted then he could have expanded his party’s base in at least 50 assembly constituencies where Muslims were a big factor, constituting 10% of the total electorate. Currently, Telangana has 12.7% Muslim population who are considered to be a formidable force to swing the election results either way.
This is also for the first time that vote-share of Owaisi’s AIMIM was significantly down despite his party bagging 7 out of 8 contested seats. It may be noted that AIMIM made its first electoral debut in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh assembly in 1962 by contesting one seat, but even after six decades Owaisi failed to expand his party’s base beyond Old City of Hyderabad, which has 65-70% Muslim population, who are mostly poor. This at once brings me the imagery of wretched Old Delhi where Muslims dominate and are made to suffer in acute poverty because of the lordship of past Jama Masjid ‘Shahi’ Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari and now his son and present Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari.
The eighth seat contested by AIMIM had lesser Muslim electorate and more Hindu voters. This in other words simply mean that while KCR’s political graph has zoomed at the cost of AIMIM, Owaisi’s popularity among Muslims on the other hand is constantly on the decline. And, all this at the cost of his so-called ‘friendship’ with KCR. Owaisi family was earlier a lackey of Congress Party for several decades, but with changing times has now become an acolyte of KCR. Mrs. Indira Gandhi used to pay visits to Asaduddin’s father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi at party headquarters Darussalam. However, the new friendship with KCR has seen junior Owaisi, Asaduddin, himself driving his motorcycle to KCR’s residence for a meeting on the eve of election results. Stooping to such a low level has never been a part Owaisi family history.
The loss of the eighth seat by AIMIM where Hindu voters dominated signals that Owaisi’s secular credentials are suspect and therefore unacceptable to a large number of electorate. The loss also means that Owaisi’s leadership qualities and his wisdom are questionable. The loss of 8th seat by AIMIM also shows that the ‘friendship’ between KCR and Owaisi didn’t stand the test of time, or else there was no reason of losing that seat at all if Owaisi’s dear friend KCR had campaigned and helped him in getting it delivered in AIMIM’s kitty, which was obviously an easy task for KCR. In fact, it seemed as though KCR easily forgot his ‘friendship’ with Owaisi and couldn’t help him win even the solitary additional seat in return for such a huge support extended to him by dear friend Owaisi. But like every other politician KCR proved to be the biggest opportunist and skilful master in deceiving. I just wonder how a Barrister and ‘astute’ politician like Asaduddin Owaisi failed to see through this devious game of KCR. I was just amazed to hear from Owaisi’s diehard supporters that their leader had helped KCR register a big win and stopped BJP from gaining foothold in Telangana. But, I am equally amazed why Owaisi lost his own seat and couldn’t get anything in return from KCR.
With this new found friendship and formation of new front, Asaduddin Owaisi has now been co-opted by KCR. It will put one to shame in seeing how KCR is making Owaisi do his bidding by forcing him to take a motorcycle ride to his home as was evident with the visuals on many TV channels. We should be ashamed to see as to what level has Owaisi stooped down to stay in power. The fact is that KCR used Owaisi to the hilt for scoring a huge win for his TRS, and ditched when it came to help in winning the eighth seat for AIMIM. After all, what kind of collaboration or friendship is this???
Asaduddin Owaisi is a failed leader and failed to make a major impact in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh, forget about the rest of India. KCR stands to benefit all the way. Being a past friend of BJP and RSS, KCR is an extension of the Brahmanical agenda whose only purpose is to finish off the Muslim leadership, howsoever good or worst it may be. There isn’t a single political party in India, which allows or want Muslim leadership to flourish. Even the so-called Muslim leaders who try to emerge on the political horizon start pandering to the cause of their respective parties. And, seeing the history of Owaisi family bedding with different political parties over a period of time, one doesn’t have any hope of seeing a strong Muslim leader or Muslim leadership emerging in the foreseeable future.
The countdown for marginalisation of Asaduddin Owaisi and his party AIMIM has just begun. Just wait for time and both Owaisi and his party will be history just like our very own venerable ‘Shahi’ Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid and his party Adam Sena.
[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObservercom. He can be reached at [email protected] or on his Mobile # 9990179721]