After analysing results of last December’s Greater Hyderabad municipal polls in which Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidates lost in Muslim-dominated areas, receiving less than 1,000 votes, the party seems to be shifting tack towards the community. All nominated posts in the minorities commission, minorities finance corporation and Urdu academy, filled once in the seven-year rule of TRS, have been lying vacant since 2020. The party seems to be not in the mood to appoint a head, according to TRS minority leaders.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls, which were held in December, 2020, saw BJP emerging as the second largest party with 48 seats, while All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) won 44. This perhaps miffed TRS, which won 56 seats.
TRS leaders have alleged that in the 2018 assembly and 2020 Hyderabad municipal polls, Muslims did not vote for the TRS. Party MLC, who didn’t want to be named, told News18 that the TRS has been working for the community and introduced several schemes during 2014-2019. In return, the party did not gain the trust of the Muslim community in the state. TRS leadership also learned that the minority leaders of the party failed to create awareness about government schemes among the Muslims.
Is TRS Working on Dual Policy for Muslims?
BJP’s meteoric rise in the state since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls where it won only four seats in the state to its performance in 2020 Hyderabad municipal polls seems to have not gone down well with the ruling TRS, which has accused the saffron party of Muslim appeasement during campaigns. It even alleged that the TRS had a secret alliance with AIMIM to swing votes.
According to TRS minority leaders, the party has decided to counter BJP on the polarisation of votes. Therefore, the TRS is working on a dual strategy for Muslims. While talking with News18 over the phone, one of the prominent TRS Muslim leaders, said the party is planning to revamp the minority leadership at the organisational level by appointing youth leaders.
The party is also reluctant to allot posts to Muslims in government institutions as this could lead to polarisation of votes, with the BJP taking advantage of the situation.
TRS minority leader Mohammad Khaleeq-ur-Rahman, who strongly dismisses that the party will be using two different strategies for the Muslim community, told News18 that the party won the GHMC elections with the support of Muslims. He claimed that Muslims were happy and still support the KCR government, which has implemented several schemes such as residential schools, ‘Shaadi Mubarak’, chief minister’s overseas scholarship for the minorities. Rahman said the chief minister will accord judicial power to Telangana Wakf Board as promised.
Former deputy mayor of GHMC Baba Fasiuddin also echoes Rahman’s views. He said Muslims voted in a large number for TRS candidates in GHMC limits therefore the party was able to win seats in Secunderabad, Jubilee Hills, Khairatabad, Sanath Nagar, Serilingampally assembly constituencies. The TRS government has set up an example by appointing Muslim chairmen for Telangana State Khadi and Village Industries Board, Telangana State Industrial Development Corporation, New & Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Ltd. and Setwin in 2017.
Political and social analyst Venugopal said before 2014, Muslims were the traditional voters of Congress but they gradually moved towards TRS. Senior citizens from the community, however, still vote for Congress, while TRS derives support from young under-40 Muslims, he pointed it out.
Interestingly, associate professor Mohammad Mustafa Ali Sarwari at Maulana Azad National Urdu University said the TRS is tackling the BJP by blaming Muslims. He said political parties always want to use Muslims as a vote bank. When candidates win seats, they forget Muslims, and when they lose, they blame the Muslims.