For as long as anyone can remember,the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) has been the dominant minority party in Hyderabad. However,that looks set to change with the party facing a challenge from within the community.
Zahid Ali Khan,the 65-year-old editor of Urdu daily Siasat,is contesting the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat as an Independent candidate,primarily against the MIM.
Khan has managed to rally behind him the TDP,TRS,Left parties,Praja Rajyam,and Devender Goud’s Nava Telangana Praja Party who have assured him that they would not be fielding their candidates for the Hyderabad seat. The Congress is likely to support the MIM and refrain from fielding a candidate while the BJP is still undecided.
The veteran journalist,who started as a sub-editor with Siasat in 1964 and went on to become its editor,says “My fight is against MIM and its divisive and communal politics. I want to restore the old glory of Hyderabad city which has been ruined by communal forces with their divisive politics. I have the support of six parties including the Left,and people from my own community are willing me to contest against MIM.”
70 per cent of the population in Hyderabad constituency is Muslim while 30 per cent is Hindu. Khan is confident that not only will 30 to 35 per cent of the Muslim population vote for him,a majority of the Hindu population will also prefer him over the MIM. “The community is seeking a change in leadership. The MIM is present here since the last 40 years but the Muslim community has not benefited in any way. There is no development in the old city areas,things have only deteriorated for the community because of communal politics. The community does not want that and that is why I have decided to contest,” Khan says. However’s Khan’s optimism about the Hindu vote may prove to be misplaced if the BJP decides to field a candidate.
Siasat has been at the forefront of criticising MIM and its leaders since several months which even led to an assault on Khan and his editorial staff at a marriage function on January 23 by MIM activists. This appears to be one of the reasons behind Khan jumping in the fray. Incidentally,TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu and PRP’s Chiranjeevi were some of the many leaders who visited Khan in Hospital.
Hyderabad old city is the stronghold of MIM,its former president Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi having been the elected MP from 1984 until 2004 when he decided to step down and his son Asaduddin Owaisi was elected to the seat in the 2004 LS elections. The party,which has four seats in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly,had come in for criticism after its MLAs and members assaulted Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen at the Press Club in August 2007.