Owaisi urges EC to hold early polls in Telangana; Says state Muslims far more secure than in North India 

Even as a six-member team of Election Commission officials arrived in Hyderabad on Wednesday, to assess the conditions in the state for holding assembly polls, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi told ET that he has urged the autonomous constitutional body to conduct elections “as early as possible and in a single phase.’

Telangana is all set for early elections after Chief Minister and Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) recommended the dissolution of the state Assembly, nine months before it was scheduled to complete its full-term, and at a time when arch rivals Congress and Telugu Desam party (TDP) have agreed, in principle, to form an alliance against the ruling party in the state.

“Why should the state be under a caretaker government for (so) long, when the Supreme Court itself has said that the EC is duty bound to hold elections in a state when the Assembly is dissolved before its term got over? What Mr Rao has done is within the confines of the Constitution. Political parties have to be prepared for elections whenever they come,” Owaisi said, adding, “In 2014, in Telangana, single phase elections were held, and now there is neither immediate Lok Sabha polls or assembly elections in neighbouring states. The excuses of festivals that the parties that are making, shows they are afraid to face the masses.”

Owaisi added that KCR, on the other hand, has been benevolent to minorities, and “has set an example in administration,” and that reports of his growing proximity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not affect the Muslims of Telangana.

“The feeling of insecurity that Muslims of North India live with, because of lynching or cow slaughter incidents, is not there in Telangana, mainly because the state government has taken care to ensure that riots don’t happen, particularly in Hyderabad. Till four years ago, Muslims had suffered the agony of being framed in cases for many years here,” he added.

Recently, KCR had said that the AIMIM was a ‘friendly’ party, and the ruling TRS has also fielded seemingly weaker candidates to the seven seats that the AIMIM is contesting.

“There is not much anti-incumbency against TRS. KCR has made the state safe for Muslims and Dalits, built a cultural centre for Muslims in the state capital, and guest houses for pilgrims of Telangana in Ajmer and other places. He has also increased scholarships for Muslim students,” Owaisi said, adding, “In the case of Rajya SabhaDeputy Chairman elections, why didn’t the Congress reach out to KCR? They should have done that. KCR has not openly embraced Modi. Why should we complain when our lives have become better?” he said.

Congress has already ruled out joining hands with AIMIM. Responding to this, Owaisi said, “I have known the Congress closely since 1994 when I became an MLA. Till 2012, I was their closest ally. The problem with the Congress, if you are with them, you are seen as holy, but if you leave them, you become evil. I am pretty sure they will not get more than 20-25 seats, and they will lose in Telangana again.”

Besides the OBC communities, TRS has also reached out to the Kamma caste, an influential vote bank, as well as settlers from Andhra Pradesh, who are perceived as traditional voters of TDP over the last few years, he said.

“This was visible in the municipal elections in areas such as LB Nagar, where TDP lost considerable voters,” Owaisi added, claiming that the alliance of TDP and Congress will not work beyond the Khammam and Nalgonda areas. In the 2014 elections, the TDP fought the elections, in alliance with the BJP, and the two parties won 15 and five seats respectively.

Source: The Economic Times