Hyderabad: With 12.5% of Telangana’s population comprising Muslims, the minority community might play a crucial role in deciding the winner of the forthcoming state elections. 

Given that 50 of the 119 seats have over 10% representation of Muslim voters, puts the spotlight back on the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which expects to increase its influence beyond the Muslim strongholds in Hyderabad.

Political analysts believe the AIMIM, which is on “friendly" terms with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), will help the latter win some seats through tactical posturing, thereby weaning away crucial Muslim votes away from the Congress. If that happens, then it will mark a generational shift of minority votes from the Congress.

A senior AIMIM leader, who did not want to be identified, said that the Congress has not been able to prove itself as a credible opposition in the last four-and-a-half years. He said that his party will try and help the TRS win seats outside Hyderabad. “As an opposition party, what have you done? Did you try to get the allocated funds disbursed? Muslim voters are not in variance against the majority voting trend, hence, they shifted to the TRS and AIMIM last time." 

In the 2014 elections, the AIMIM had managed to attain a sizable vote share in some seats, other than the seven it had won, showing that its influence is indeed growing beyond the Muslim-dominated old city areas of Hyderabad. 

The result of the Nizamabad urban seat was telling. The AIMIM’s candidate secured 31,648 votes against the TRS’s 40,947, while the Congress came at a distant fourth with 25,400 votes. Analysts believe that the Congress would have won the seat easily had the AIMIM not contested there. 

Out of the 119 seats in the assembly, 24 fall under the Greater Hyderabad area (core city and surrounding places), of which seven are considered to be the bastions of the AIMIM. 

A Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) functionary, who requested anonymity, said that the Muslim voters will indeed play a crucial role. However, the TRS’s failure to get 12% reservation for the community will backfire in the coming elections, he said, adding: “We’ll have to see the AIMIM’s influence this time." 

In the forthcoming polls, the Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi have joined hands to form an alliance against the TRS, which had won 63 of the 119 seats in the 2014 polls (it later had about 90 MLAs due to defections), with the rest being split between opposition parties.

“The AIMIM has pledged its support to the TRS and this will be a decisive factor in the elections. It will do everything possible to ensure Muslim votes across Telangana gravitate towards TRS, which is likely to result in non-consolidation of anti-BJP vote in favour of the Congress party. The TRS’s confidence of winning 100 seats also comes from this support," said Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, a political analyst.

TRS supremo and present caretaker chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the assembly on 6 September, citing “political fragility", thereby advancing the polls, which were originally scheduled to be held in the summer of 2019. Last week, the Election Commission of India announced that polls will be held on 7 December and that the result will be announced on 11 December.

Close