LS polls: MBT to take on AIMIM in Hyderabad; no alliance with Congress

The MBT is an option for Muslim voters who are especially anti-AIMIM in Hyderabad.

Hyderabad: The Amjadullah Khan-led Majilis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) is all set to take on the AIMIM and will contest the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat on its own for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. It was earlier speculated that the Congress would nominate the MBT chief as its INDIA alliance partner. However, he told that he will be contesting on his own.

The dynamics for the prestigious Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat have also changed this time around, as the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) saw its vote share dipping in the 2023 Assembly polls in a few seats. MBT’s Amjadullah Khan in fact almost stole a victory from under AIMIM’s ground, as he lost the Yakutpura seat by just 878 seats.

This was a rude shock to the AIMIM, given that it’s one of its core seats in the Old City of Hyderabad. The MBT is an option for Muslim voters who are especially anti-AIMIM in Hyderabad.

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Senior Congress leaders from the state leadership also confirmed that the MBT alliance is not going to happen. In fact, the grand old party and the AIMIM have come to a political understanding, and the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM will be helping the Congress this time around for the Lok Sabha polls. Since 2014, the AIMIM has been openly supporting the K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR)-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) openly.

AIMIM and the Hyderabad seat

However, this time the AIMIM is not supporting the BRS and has in fact remained mum – clear hint that it has decided to help the Congress indirectly. The AIMIM also has been holding the Hyderabad constituency since 1984. In the 2019 election, party chief Asaduddin Owaisi won it by securing over five lakh votes. Its closest rival was the BJP with close to 2.35 lakh votes.

A serious contender from the Congress would have spelt trouble for the AIMIM. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has nominated entrepreneur Madhavi Latha for the seat, it is unlikely she will be able to win the seat, given that about 60% of voters are Muslims. “Hamare Hyderabad me in Dulhe ki dastar aakhri me in lagti (in Hyderabad the groom’s dinner table is set last at his wedding),” said Amjadullah Khan when asked why he has not announced his candidacy.

The MBT chief said he will file his application once the Election Commission opens up the nominations. It is to be seen how his candidacy will impact the AIMIM’s fortunes. While political pundits say that unlikely to lose, MBT’s performance last year also hints at a lot of anti-incumbency against the AIMIM in its own stronghold of the Old City.

”There was already a lot of anti-incumbency against AIMIM from the past. If MBT’s Amjadullah contests from the Hyderabad seat, he will retain his votes from Yakutpura and from other seats. It will definitely cost the AIMIM, as a lot of anti-AIMIM Muslim voters will also vote for MBT. If the Congress also damages the AIMIM in Hyderabad, Owaisi will go and canvass against them in other states. So their understanding is understandable,” said an activist from the Old City in Hyderabad.

AIMIM’s realpolitik

The AIMIM has a history of generally working with ruling parties. After it cut ties with the Congress in the joint Andhra Pradesh earlier, Asaduddin Owaisi warmed up to KCR after the state’s formation in 2014. Both of them always maintained that they were on “friendly” terms and even supported each other in the 2018 and 2023 state elections, and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as well.

Owaisi in his public speeches has in the past asked Muslims to support the BRS. However, in spite of it, the Congress managed to win and beat KCR in last year’s state election.

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