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As Poverty and Illiteracy Continue to Plague Old City, Will Owaisi Juggernaut Redo its Magic in Hyderabad?

For the past three-and-a-half decade, Hyderabad has remained with the AIMIM. Its chief, Asaduddin Owaisi, is re-contesting from the constituency for the fourth time in a row.

PV Ramana Kumar | News18

Updated:April 1, 2019, 11:07 PM IST
As Poverty and Illiteracy Continue to Plague Old City, Will Owaisi Juggernaut Redo its Magic in Hyderabad?
A representative image.

Hyderabad: The city of pearls, Hyderabad, reminds one of too many things, including the historic Charminar and of course, biryani.

It has also been ranked as one of the best cities in the country to live. However, a walk down the old part of the city reveals a contrasting picture.

Hyderabad, for long, has been split into two parts — the new city, which has all the modern amenities that citizens can think of, and the old city that essentially looks ‘ancient’ and is in a sorry state.

This part, falling under the Hyderabad parliament constituency, has a predominantly Muslim population.

People here do not even have proper drinking water and sanitation facilities. Roads are also in a very bad shape.

A man selling fruits beside the Charminar said there was no change visible in the old part of city since the last 20 years. “Even the roads have not been repaired. My 12-year-old son works in a hotel as a cleaner,” said Feroz, while selling his stock from the roadside shop.

A nearby tea seller said he had been living with his family of five in a single room since years and all the family members were engaged as labourers.

“As they say, the old city is far from development. Here, people have remained uneducated and political leaders are responsible for this. They did not even allow the metro rail here. The citizens here are used as voting machines,” Prasanna Kumar, a social activist, told News18.

During his rally in Hyderabad, Prime Minister Narendra Madi has blamed the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) for not letting the metro rail reach the old city.

For the past three-and-a-half decade, the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat has remained with the AIMIM. From 1984 to 2004, Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was the MP and since 2004, his son and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has been representing the seat in the lower House of Parliament.

Asaduddin is re-contesting from the constituency for the fourth time in a row.

The Congress has fielded Feroz Khan for the seat, while Puste Srikanth is the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidate. BJP’s Bhagawanth Rao, who got over 3 lakh votes with 32% vote share in the last Lok Sabha election, is also in fray. Asaduddin won a little over 5.13 lakh votes in 2014.

Though the ruling TRS, led by Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, is an ally of the AIMIM, the party has a contender here.

“The BJP did not campaign seriously in the last election. It can win this time if it focuses on the seat. There is a fear among the candidates about contesting against the AIMIM chief. They need to could come out of that,” said journalist Mir Sirasat Ali Baqri.

The seven assembly segments that fall under the seat are Malakpet, Karwan, Goshamahal, Charminar, Chandrayanagutta, Yakutpura and Bahadurpura.

Of these, six are represented by AIMIM MLAs, while Goshamahal has BJP legislator, Raja Singh. Asaduddin’s brother Akbaruddin is the Chandrayanagutta MLA.

“We have learnt from our past experiences. The AIMIM believes in destructive politics and communalism. We believe in nationalism and are confident of victory,” Rao told News18.

The BJP candidate said the AIMIM never sought development as it wanted the people of the old city to remain in the dark.

More than 60% voters in Hyderabad belong to the minority community. Before the delimitation exercise, assembly segments like Vikarabad, Chevella, and Tandoor, which has a larger Hindu population, were part of the Hyderabad parliamentary seat.

There are allegations that Asaduddin brought more Muslim-dominated areas under the constituency.

“It is true. After delimitation, the assembly segments where there were more minorities came under Hyderabad. However, AIMIM legislators are always available to people and help them in their needs. Illiteracy and poverty are the major problems here. People of this area feel the AIMIM is their saviour. We could possibly see a change this time in the younger generation,” said Abdul Hadi, a senior journalist.

“In every election, we try to elect a non-AIMIM candidate. But our strength is not enough. Even those votes are split between the BJP, Congress and TRS,” said Sridhar Reddy, a Malakpet-based man.

However, Asaduddin, who is busy campaigning, was confident. “I am doing my best to develop the area and people have voted for us for several terms now. And, this will continue. I am the voice of the minorities in this country. The present rule is against our composite culture,” he told News18.

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