Telangana: Be it Congress or BRS in power, AIMIM always wins

Political analysts have maintained that this is the real nature of the AIMIM, which has always been a cat on the wall that jumps on the side of whichever party is in power

Hyderabad: In the political landscape of Telangana, a new friendship had formed over the last decade between the previous Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). Both being bitter opponents of the Congress made the alliance easier, especially for AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi who had snapped ties with the grand old party in 2012.

Everything was smooth sailing for the AIMIM and the BRS until the latter lost last year’s Telangana Assembly election to the Congress. Many were left wondering if Owaisi would continue his association with BRS supremo and ex-chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), or whether the AIMIM would be willing to reconcile with the Congress and put aside its decade old animosity?

It seems that the AIMIM is actually moving closer to Conrgess within Telangana but with some caveats. It has been over three months since the BRS lost, and the AIMIM already seems to be cozying up with the Congress. Owaisi and Telangana chief minister Revanth Reddy’s friendly demeanour in public and AIMIM not being critical of the state government comes as an indicator.

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Moreover, Asaduddin’s younger brother and Chandrayangutta AIMIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi also met Revanth in London recently adding credence to the notion that both sides have made peace. Moreover, the BRS and AIMIM have so far not mentioned anything about their association for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, as they did in the previous Lok Sabha polls.

Congress in, KCR out

Despite being a bitter critic of the Congress for years now, the AIMIM seems to be willing to work with even what it called its ‘enemy’, given that enemy is in power now. Political analysts have maintained that this is the real nature of the AIMIM, which has always been a cat on the wall that jumps on the side of whichever party is in power.

Owaisi had quit the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre in 2012 after its 7 MLAs were arrested while protesting against the unauthorised expansion of the Bhagyalaxmi temple at the Charminar. He has since then been one of the Congress’ biggest critics. In the recent 2023 Assembly election as well, Owaisi had asked Muslims in Telangana to vote for “Mamu”, referring to KCR. On his part, KCR had said the BRS was “friendly” with AIMIM.

However, once the Congress won the election, it took almost no time for the AIMIM to slowly hint that they were open to an understanding. More than one BRS functionary told that this was expected.

Where the wind blows, AIMIM follows?

“The AIMIM was always like this, politically ambiguous. They will help whoever is in power. In fact, many Muslims are also anti-AIMIM. In the 2015 GHMC elections, in spite of not canvassing, our party came second in several of the 44 seats in the Old City. KCR did not want expand there to maintain good equations with Owaisi,” said a BRS functionary who did not want to be quoted.

He went on to add that going with the AIMIM has not been beneficial for the BRS, while Owaisi has benefitted from KCR’s political patronage in the past.

However, political observers said that the AIMIM still cannot be trusted as things stand. “AIMIM is contesting the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar against Congress at a time when there is a big opposition block forming against the BJP nationally. This is a long game. After Lok Sabha, there is the GHMC polls and the Congress won’t spare the AIMIM if it has to gain ground in Hyderabad,” said an analyst who did not want to be quoted.

Within the Telangana Congress, there seems to be some apprehension, especially amongst Muslim leaders, of joining hands with the AIMIM unofficially. One Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) leader remarked that the “ongoing love story” between both sides is also why the grand old party is not taking the Hyderabad Lok seat, currently held by Owaisi, as a serious contest.

”Ideally we should have worked to gain space from the AIMIM especially after what Owaisi has done to the Congress. But senior leaders seem to be of the opinion that we can gain Muslim votes in the districts of Telangana to help us win more seats, “ a senior Congress Muslim leader told

Telangana has 17 Lok Sabha seats of which the AIMIM has been winning the Hyderabad constituency since 1984. In other seats like Karimnagar or Nizamabad, Muslim votes hold some importance as it could influence the result in a close contest between the Congress, BJP and BRS.

It has been learnt that while ex-Congress president Rahul Gandhi is against joining hands with Owaisi, other state leaders who have good ties with AIMIM prefer the opposite. It is however a fact that while the AIMIM has some kind of an understanding with the Congress, it is still not supporting the grand old party-led national alliance against the BJP, which observers have said questions its real motives.

AIMIM’s political convenience and alliances in other states

AIMIM functionaries however said that the party does not have any political understanding with the Congress and that any hint of working together was mainly for developmental work. “Our MLAs have to get the work done, so that is all there is to it. We have not changed our stand with the BRS as well. As a political party we also need to get our work done,” stated a senior party functionary.

In the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the AIMIM is likely to contest the Hyderabad, Aurangabad, and a few other seats in other states. The party managed to win five Assembly seats in the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls, apart from having two MLAs in Maharashtra. However, its expansion has also hit a roadblock as its MLAs have all defected in Bihar and the AIMIM currently does not have any ally in Maharashtra as well.

It won the Lok Sabha Aurangabad seat in an alliance with the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi in 2019, and the alliance was broken a year later itself. Ambedkar on his part had made it clear that the VBA will not go with the AIMIM, so it is to be seen if the AIMIM can win the Aurangabad seat again.

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