Muslims, the largest minority community in Andhra Pradesh, have apparently decided to punish the ruling Telugu Desam Party for continuing its ‘unholy alliance’ with the ‘communal Bharatiya Janata Party’ despite the Gujarat carnage and for encouraging stepped-up activities of the Sangh Parivar.
Muslim voters account for 12 per cent of the total electorate of the state, which will witness simultaneous polls to the state assembly along with the Lok Sabha elections.
Chief Minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu’s efforts to woo them with a series of promises, including three per cent reservations in government jobs and in admissions to professional colleges, have failed to yield results.
As a last resort, he roped in two Muslim organisations – Muslim Muttahida Mahaz and the Millat Front – to garner Muslim votes, particularly in the crucial Telangana region. The Muttahida Mahaz, led by Rahnuma-e-Deccan chief editor Syed Vicaruddin, has given a call to the Muslims to support the TDP in the 2-phase elections scheduled on April 20 and 26.
Vicaruddin hails the TDP for taking initiatives for the upliftment of the Muslim community during its nine-year rule, including provided financial assistance for construction of shadikhanas (marriage halls) and repair of mosques. Praising the TDP for preventing any communal disturbances in the state, he dismissed the electoral alliance of the TDP with the BJP as an aberration.
The Millat Front, comprising religious leaders and educationists, however, tried to strike a balance by exhorting Muslims to vote for the TDP in the assembly polls and for the Congress in the elections to the Lok Sabha on the ground that it is necessary to prevent the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance from retaining power at the Centre. It advised the Muslims to vote against BJP candidates both in assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
On the other hand, the United Muslim Forum and the United Minority Front have come out against the TDP-BJP alliance, terming it as a threat to the country’s secular fabric. Muslims, they said, should defeat communal forces as well as those supporting and abetting them and the TDP does not deserve Muslim votes as it is an ally of the BJP.
The United Muslim Forum comprises members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Jamaat-e-Islami, Amaraat-e-Islamia and other famous Muslim religious personalities led by Maulana Hameeduddin Aquil Hussami. The United Minority Front consists of religious leaders and educationists led by Zafar Javed.
These two fronts term the Congress-led alliance in the state (comprising Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist) as the best bet for the Muslim voters for both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
In the twin cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, where the Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen is contesting the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat and in six assembly segments, these two fronts have come out in support of this minority party.
By Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad