When Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), set off pre-Diwali fireworks by cutting off ties with the Kiran Kumar Reddy government, calling it “naahel” (inefficient) and “kaahel” (shirking duty), he was not just letting off steam. His words signalled the MIM’s alienation from the ruling Congress, which it has supported since 1998. Muslims form 10 per cent of the state’s electorate and have traditionally voted for the Congress. But Owaisi’s statement that “Jaganmohan Reddy is my friend, and Kiran Kumar Reddy was my friend” is an indication that the MIM now sees the YSR Congress—towards which Muslim voters in the state seem to have been veering in recent times—as a potential ally.
The late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), Jagan’s father and former Congress chief minister, reached out to the minorities with his efforts to create a four per cent quota for Muslims, pro-poor schemes such as Arogyashree and college fee reimbursements. “But now,” says Kosuri Amarnath, a senior political analyst, “Muslims feel that the ruling party is incapable of protecting their interests. In such a scenario, they see Jagan as the true heir of the pro-minority politics his father pursued. It is but natural that the MIM, which considers itself the voice of Muslims, drifts towards him.”
In the June byelections, the YSR Congress swept 15 of 18 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat. In places like Anantapur and Kadapa, Jagan’s party won most of the Muslim vote. The YSR Congress polled as much as 50 per cent of the vote, while the Congress and the Telugu Desam got 22 per cent each. “Jagan is a 50-over match player (lambey race ka ghoda), the Telugu Desam and the Congress are Twenty20 players,” says Syed Amin Jafri, an MIM MLC.
But then, does the MIM’s clout extend beyond Hyderabad? The 50-year-old party holds seven assembly seats in the old city precincts of Hyderabad. Only one of the candidates it fielded from the city in the 2009 assembly polls had lost. Owaisi, its chief, is the MP from Hyderabad. But the party is not without ambitions, given that 95 of the 294 assembly constituencies in the state have Muslim voters in excess of 10 per cent and 65 have more than 15 per cent. And of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, 17 have more than 10 per cent Muslim voters, seven more than 15 per cent.
Owaisi’s quarrel with Kiran Kumar Reddy also extends to a dispute over a three-acre plot at the Mahavir Hospital in the A.C. Guards area of Hyderabad. The 30-year lease period ended in 2007. Owaisi has been asking the state government to hand over possession of the prime property to the Deccan College of Medical Sciences, run by his family, but Kiran Kumar has refused to clear the file. This has upset Owaisi immensely, according to insiders. Kishen Reddy, MLA and BJP state president, alleges that “Owaisi is resorting to communal blackmailing by creating the Bhagyalakshmi temple issue in order to get possession of the Mahavir Hospital plot”.
But Owaisi says, “Be it in the Old City of Hyderabad, or other places, Muslims and their properties have constantly been targeted. When the Muslim on the street is asking me to withdraw support to this anti-people government which cannot provide them with security, I have no choice but to do so.”
The Telugu Desam, however, sees the Bhagyalaskhmi temple issue as “just a drama engineered by the YSR Congress”. Both the Congress and the Telugu Desam are on slippery ground in the Telangana region. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is the major force there and now it is being asked whether Jagan (strong in Rayalaseema and coastal areas) can tie up with the MIM to emerge as a player in Telangana region. Though the MIM has always opposed statehood for Telangana, it believes the Muslim vote there would go to a secular party such as the YSR Congress. The Congress continues to be seen as a loser.
Your article The Deccan Revolts (Nov 26) overlooks historical and archaeological evidence that the Bhagyalakshmi temple existed before the Charminar was constructed. The Qutubshahi kings were tolerant, liberal and kind to people of all faiths. Everyone knows the role played by Owaisi’s mim and its razakars post-Independence.
Vineet Reddy, Hyderabad
I wonder why archaeologists never made the status of the Bhagyalakshmi temple clear before the matter went to court and grew out of proportion. It’s a minor temple anyway, and trouble rose this year only because a canopy was raised to celebrate Diwali—something that was never done before.
Vani A., Hyderabad
The Charminar is 400 years old, so why not get rid of it! And then we could move on to do away with the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Sanchi Stupa and every other monument!
Arun Masilamoni, Hyderabad
As a Hindu, I’m for the removal of the temple abutting the Charminar. How can such an ugly construction stand beside a historical monument? It’s as bad as the masjid abutting the Vishwanath temple in Benares.
When the court has ruled that the temple stay as it is, why did Owaisis need to create a communal situation?
G. Niranjan Rao, Hyderabad
I am not bothered by the mim leaving the Congress in a lurch to join Jaganmohan Reddy’s party. What bothers me is the communal flare-up that it has created. It’s time people reject this openly communal party and its opportunist leaders and voted in an alternative.
As long as the Muslims of the old parts of Hyderabad keep voting for the mim, they will remain 20 years behind the rest of the country.
Thrivikram Kona, Hyderabad
The Owaisis have once again done what they know how to do best: create a communal conflagration when it suits them politically.
A tarpaulin canopy to cover the Bhagyalakshmi temple has created such a ruckus! Is this all it takes for one community to take to the streets?
Prasanth Nambiar, Melbourne
Apropos The Deccan Revolts (Nov 26), the mim has the support of people from the old, walled city area of Hyderabad. As a political party, it has managed to leverage this into advantage: it is said even the police chief of Hyderabad can’t be appointed without clearance from mim leaders.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
>> and why are you subjecting harmless animals to torture
You are likely new to this forum, and don't know the history or the reason for using this specific term.
"those who whine like stuck pigs if a Muslims is denied a right to buy/rent a flat in a Hindu dominated area"
I lived in a Muslim-dominated area called Mallepally. My grandfather bought that house in 1938. In the 1980s the Muslim neighbors began dropping rocks onto the asbestos-roofed verandah to torment my relatives, who were senior citizens, and one of them a heart patient. Mind you: those same Muslim neighbours had lived beside my relatives for almost 50 years. Other neighbours who were Brahmin had bits of meat (beef?) thrown into their courtyards. The local police were Muslim, so didn't lift a finger to help us.
However, all this brutish behaviour does not justify the defiling of a 450-year old monument. Remove that temple.
WhatIS In a Name >> What next? Should ugly people be rounded up, and made to live separately from the pretty ones? Should I start packing my bags for such an eventuality?
My friend is finds that putting the picture of one bespectacled bald man in 500 Rupee currency notes is very ugly, more because this old bald man was against drinking beer/alcohol, against sex for pleasure and like. So he is saying that he will tear 500 Rupee currency notes in protest.
PS - For those who missed the sarcasm, the point is not to insult the father of nation, but just to say that BEAUTY is a Subjective concept. I find it beautiful to have a Muslim architectural monument stand near a hindu temple . If you feel otherwise, dont look at it.
THe whole CHARMINAR Vs Bhagyalakshmi Temple issue is brought cleverly into MSM by a Congress party whose leadership knows that 1) UPA 1 and UPA2 were possible only because Congress swept AP in 2004 and 2009 polls 2) UPA3 will never happen unless Congress wins atleast 20 seats in AP 3) And with Congress written off in Rest of andhra due to ysr jagan factor, only fighting chance is in Telengana and 4) For 3 to get fulfilled, Telengana movement should perish due to internal divisions.. 5) For 4 to happen best is to stoke Hindu Muslim riots and 6) For 5 , the best chance is to create a new hindu-muslim issue that can be milked for next 2 general elections 7) And the best case for 6 is this new issue.
Bhagyalakshmi is truly a fortune giving godess for the CON party in AP. Its demolition will be agenda worth pursuing if it helps Rahul become a PM in 2014. That is the CON party for you, a party that will sell your own family members if it means the continuation of a dynasty rule.
n"those who whine like stuck pigs"
and why are you subjecting harmless animals to torture? Would you whine any less if stuck with a lance?
A pig is a cleaner and more honourable animal than a human being, and certainly far more loyal to its family than the brutes who 'stick' it.
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