Telangana polls: Is Congress taking Muslim voters for granted?

The minority leaders in the grand old party are upset with the leadership for taking Muslim votes for granted and assuming that they will vote for Congress.

Hyderabad: Muslim leaders in the Telangana Congress Pradesh Committee (TPCC) are miffed with the party’s top brass over ‘a lack of planning to attract Muslim voters’ in the upcoming state elections. Many minority leaders have expressed displeasure over the TPCC functionaries for not coming up with a clear campaign plan. They fear that if Congress doesn’t act, the Muslim votes, especially outside Greater Hyderabad, will go to the ruling Bharata Rashtra Samithi (BRS).

“All the TPCC leaders only look at ex-MLA Shabbir Ali, who is a self-proclaimed leader of the community. He has no standing to challenge anyone from the BRS or even in the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). Shabbir does not let any other minority leader grow within the party. At least 75% of Muslim voters, that used to be with the Congress traditionally, have moved to the BRS,” said a Muslim leader from the Telangana Congress, requesting anonymity.

He added that the TPCC was under the impression that Congress in Telangana would be a default choice for Muslims in the state. “They are forgetting that AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had campaigned for chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) last year. It worked so well that the BRS won most of the seats where Muslims have a vote share beyond 10%. The party needs to have a concrete plan for the elections, but they are taking Muslim votes for granted,” the leader told

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A senior TPCC leader said that they are expecting Muslims to vote for the Congress, especially due to Hindutva violence spreading across India. “Minority voters know that only we can provide security, and they will vote for us,” he said.

Will the Congress act?

However, Muslim leaders in the Congress said that the community sees BRS as a more viable option now. “KCR may be promising the moon, but he is giving something via welfare schemes. Shabbir Ali has lost six out of eight elections. He will mostly lose from Kamareddy again,” he pointed out.

In the 2018 Telangana elections, the BRS won 88 out of 119 seats. Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which formed a grand alliance with other parties, managed to win only 19 and two seats respectively. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had to settle for just one seat. However, soon after the polls, 12 Congress MLAs defected and joined the pink party. The AIMIM retained its seven Assembly seats in Hyderabad.

One of the key reasons for the BRS’s resounding victory was the consolidation of minority votes outside Hyderabad. The AIMIM won seven Assembly seats in the city, while 18 other seats in the Greater Hyderabad area went to the BRS. Beyond all this, about 22 seats across Telangana, especially in urban areas like Nizamabad, have a considerable number of Muslim voters.

“Nearly 50 Assembly constituencies comprise 10% to 30% of Muslim voters. All of them used to vote for Congress. With the AIMIM’s support and through welfare schemes like Shaadi Mubarak, KCR has managed to woo the minorities. The Congress will not only have to present other better schemes, but will also need strong Muslim leadership,” said the Congress leader.

Two more senior Muslim leaders from the Congress party also told that all these matters had been raised during recent AICC meetings. “For some reason they do not understand how important it is to have a steady plan in Telangana as things have changed since 2014. We have to see what happens next,” one of them said.

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