Cong may gain Muslim votes in Telangana: Experts | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Cong may gain Muslim votes in Telangana: Experts

BySrinivsa Rao Apparasu
Nov 16, 2023 07:22 AM IST

Accounting for around 13% of the total population in Telangana, Muslims hold the key in at least 45 out of 119 assembly constituencies in the state


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Muslims of Telangana, who have been supporting the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) for the last two assembly elections in Telangana, might tilt towards the Congress to some extent in the elections scheduled to be held on November 30, analysts say.

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Accounting for around 13% of the total population in Telangana, Muslims hold the key in at least 45 out of 119 assembly constituencies in the state and have the potential to tilt the balance to either the BRS or the Congress in the event of a tight fight.

According to Hyderabad-based scholar and political analyst Mir Ayub Ali Khan, the Muslims had supported the Congress during the combined Andhra Pradesh because it was friendly with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and was opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party across the country, despite the fact that there were occasional communal clashes during the Congress regime till 1994.

“Though a section of Muslims also supported the Telugu Desam Party, the Congress enjoyed their support by and large. During the Y S Rajsekhar Reddy government, they even got four per cent reservations in education and employment,” he said.

However, after the death of YSR in 2009, the Muslims started feeling insecure and there were incidents of attacks on Muslims during the Kiran Kumar Reddy regime in 2010 and 2011. “The AIMIM snapped its ties with the Congress in 2011 and adopted an independent stand. When the BRS (earlier Telangana Rashtra Samithi) fought the elections independently in 2014, the Muslims voted for it, as they were charmed by KCR, who spoke in their language and came closer to their heart,” Khan said.

Between 2014 and 2018, the KCR government took up welfare schemes for the Muslims, such as construction of Shadi Khanas and introduction of Shadi Mubarak (payment of 1 lakh to poor Muslim families towards marriage expenses).

“The biggest initiative was the establishment of 206 residential schools and colleges exclusively for Muslims to improve the educational standards of Muslims. There have been absolutely no incidents of any communal violence anywhere in Telangana. The friendly alliance with the AIMIM helped the BRS to a large extent and that resulted in the Muslims voting for the BRS for a second time in 2018 elections,” Khan said.

This time, too, the BRS is confident that the Muslims would repose faith in the leadership of KCR, as the AIMIM announced its support to the BRS. However, the Congress has been making all-out efforts to regain the confidence of Muslims.

“The confidence of the Congress stems from the fact that the Muslims voted in big numbers in the neighbouring Karnataka in the recent assembly elections and that would definitely have some impact on Telangana as well,” said another political analyst Prof Nageshwar.

But, he said, it was a different scenario in Karnataka because the principal opponent for the Congress was the BJP. “So, the Muslims had no choice except to vote for the Congress. In Telangana, the BJP is no major rival for the Congress, but it is BRS,” he said.

He, however, said the narrative that the Congress is the only party which can take on the BJP at the national level is fast spreading among the Muslims across the country and even in Telangana. “At the same time, a general perception that the BRS has a tacit understanding with the BJP is also growing strong among the Muslims in Telangana. That might work in favour of the Congress,” Nageshwar said.

The Congress leadership has also been campaigning that it was the YSR government which had introduced reservations for Muslims in education and employment. “Though KCR promised that he would increase the Muslim quota to 12 per cent, he has not taken any steps in that direction but washed his hands of by throwing the blame on the Centre,” former minister Mohammad Ali Shabbir said.

Both the BRS and the Congress have resisted the Uniform Civil Code proposal of the Centre and the BJP’s public announcement that it would do away with the Muslim reservations if it is voted to power.

“It all depends on whom the Muslims would believe. Since the Congress is a national party that can take on the BJP, it hopes it can win the confidence of the Muslims in the elections. But to what extent remains an interesting question,” Nageshwar added.

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