GHMC polls: With only 1 Muslim candidate, BJP’s aversion to Muslims is obvious

Hyderabad: Ever since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed last year, the Muslim community in India woke up to the realisation that it may be disenfranchised by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It became evident that the BJP has some aversion to Muslims, but its leaders always maintained that was never the case. 

However, if the candidate list of the BJP for the upcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls is anything to go by, then it is rather obvious that the saffron party doesn’t really care about Muslims or their representation; even in a city where the community occupies about 20-25% of the population (as GHMC limits includes surroundings, while it is higher in the core areas of Hyderabad) . 

Among all the BJP’s corporator candidates for the 150 GHMC wards, only one Muslim candidate, Mirza Akil Afandi (Dabeerpura ward) has found himself lucky. This, in a city where the Old City is dominated by Muslims. In fact, political analysts believe that BJP putting up Muslim candidates at least in the old city areas would at least hurt the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s prospects (as BJP would also draw some non-Muslim votes). 

The irony here is that the AIMIM, which is contesting in about 60 seats (about 45 in the Old City areas) and which often is called the BJP’s “B-team”, has itself fielded four non-Muslim candidates. BJP functionaries, when contacted, did not have much to say about this. 

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While AIMIM’s Muslim-centric politics is obvious and open, it has also always tried to put up an image of being inclusive (as one can see from it giving non-Muslim candidates tickets in the recent Bihar state elections as well). When contacted, an AIMIM functionary said that while four non-Muslim candidates have been given tickets for the GHMC polls this time, the previous year two non-Muslims were given tickets. 

“The four candidates standing this time have been given tickets because the ward has more Hindu population or the seats are reserved (for a specific category). The four non-Muslim candidates are standing from Jam Bagh, Karwaan, Puranapul and Falaknuma,” the AIMIM functionary informed. 

In the ongoing shrill campaigns for the GHMC polls, the BJP has also come up as the major contender against the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Buoyed by its recent Dubbak bye-poll win, a seat that it snatched from the TRS, the BJP has adopted an aggressive Hindutva campaign this time around for the GHMC elections.

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The TRS, which was very confident earlier, seems to be on the back foot this time around to some extent. In the previous GHMC elections, the TRS won 99 seats, and the AIMIM 44, out of the total 150 wards. The Congress, BJP and the Telugu Desam Party were left with scraps.

Moreover, in the 2018 state polls, the TRS and AIMIM together lapped up nearly all the 26 assembly seats that fall under the GHMC limits. However, the ruling party, led by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, suffered a setback in the 2019 general elections, when it won only 9 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress and BJP managed to win 3 and 4 seats in the state.  

The fact that the saffron party has also brought in national-level leaders like union minister Prakash Javadekar, and Karnataka MP Tejasvi Surya for its campaign also shows how desperate it is to win some seats. The Congress meanwhile has more or less been pushed to the margins, with its leaders undertaking a lacklustre campaign this time around

(Nihad Amani also contributed for this report)

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