Hyderabad: The Muslim factor continues to bedevil parties across the political spectrum in Telangana. Which way will Muslims vote in the upcoming elections is the million dollar question.
With the community being in the ‘king maker’ position in at least 30 to 40 constituencies in the State, all eyes are on the minority vote. Both the principal contestants, BRS and Congress, are confident that Muslims will plump for their party. Statistics show that the community holds a pivotal position that could sway the outcome in favour of either the BRS or the Congress.
The Congress party exudes confidence drawing strength from the support it received from the Muslim community in neighbouring Karnataka. This historical backing forms the backbone of their optimism as they vie for the allegiance of Muslim voters in Telangana. On the other hand, the BRS party pins its hopes on the MIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen) to tip the scales in its favor. Both principal contestants believe they have the winning formula to secure the Muslim vote.
Political chess game
The intricacies of this political chess game are underscored by plausible arguments on both sides. The Congress emphasises its track record in safeguarding minority interests and fostering a sense of inclusivity. Meanwhile, the BRS party underscores the strategic alliance with MIM, a party with a significant influence among Muslim voters. As the election countdown ticks away, the political landscape is alive with fervent efforts from both sides to court the Muslim community.
The percentage of minority votes in Telangana stands at 14. Of this Muslims alone account for 12.7 percent and Christians 1.3 percent. In the seven constituencies held by Majlis in Hyderabad, the Muslim voter percentage is 50 percent. The Muslim electorate is also in good numbers in other city segments like Maheswaram, Rajendernagar, Jubilee Hills, Khairatabad, Amberpet, Musheerabad, Secunderabad and Sanathnagar. Elsewhere in the State in 29 Assembly constituencies there is a substantial presence of Muslims. They command 15 percent and above votes in constituencies such as Nizamabad Urban, Zaheerabad, Bodhan, Mahboobnagar, Sangareddy, Adilabad, Warangal East, Karimnagar, Banswada, Tandur, Vikarabad, Nirmal and Mudhole. In all these places the Majlis is actively campaigning in favour of BRS.
UMF is with TRS while TMS supports Congress
Different community specific organizations are also working to ensure that this inherent power to influence the electoral outcome is used judiciously. The United Muslim Forum, an umbrella body of religious personalities belonging to different schools, has extended support to the BRS. The Tahreek Muslim Shabban has, however, announced support to the Congress barring the constituencies of Adilabad and Bodhan. Jamaat e Islami Hind, Telangana, however has remained silence.
According to sources it is waiting for the approval from the Jamaat headquarters in Delhi for the proposal it has sent there.
Ever since the creation of Telangana in the year 2014, Muslims have voted in support of the KCR-led BRS and there is no reason why they will act differently now. The resurgent Congress is hoping that Muslims will go with it as they did in Karnataka. But analysts say the scenario in Karnataka was quite different. With controversies raging around hijab, halal meat, love jihad and Tipu Sultan, Muslims had no choice but to vote for the Congress which was taking on the Hindutva forces. In Telangana there are no such issues with the minority friendly BRS government implementing a number of welfare schemes. And, therefore, there is no reason why Muslims would shift their support base from BRS which has a secular image, say political analysts.
The resurgent Congress is trying hard to gain the confidence of Muslims. But the ‘Minority Declaration’ of the party has nothing new to offer. It is promising more budgetary allocations for welfare schemes already being implemented by the BRS government. The Congress promises to hike the minority budget up to Rs. 4000 crore annually. The community, it is said, is by and large satisfied with the BRS regime. The absence of communal riots is a big plus point in favour of the party.
However, when it comes to the Parliamentary elections, Muslims might vote for the Congress to stop the BJP juggernaut, it is said.
With hardly 10 days left for the polls, political parties are sparing no effort to capture the attention and favor of Muslim voters. Campaign trails are adorned with promises of better representation, socio-economic development, and protection of minority rights. Street corners echo with the impassioned rhetoric of politicians vying for the allegiance of this crucial voting bloc.
Political analysts keenly observe the unfolding dynamics, asserting that the next few days will be instrumental in shaping the trajectory of the election. The decisions made by Muslim voters in these critical days could be the deciding factor that sways the balance in favor of one party over the other. The intricacies of community sentiments, regional dynamics, and historical affiliations weave a complex tapestry that will ultimately determine the course of Telangana’s political future.