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Political voice for Muslims essential for progress: Owaisi defends MIM's role

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Political voice for Muslims essential for progress: Owaisi defends MIMs role
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This has been a hectic week for Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi as he kept shuffling between Hyderabad and Jaipur to campaign for his party candidates in Assembly elections, both in his home state Telangana and in Rajasthan. Unfazed by the continuing taunts of the Congress and other parties that MIM contests the elections to help BJP by dividing secular votes, the Hyderabad MP is continuing his efforts to expand the presence of the party across the country.

For the first time, MIM has entered the poll fray in Rajasthan. It fielded 10 candidates in the desert state where polling for the 200-member Assembly is scheduled on November 20. In Telangana, MIM is contesting nine Assembly seats, all in its stronghold of Hyderabad. Seven of these seats are currently held by the MIM, and it has been winning all these seven seats since 2009.

In the remaining 110 constituencies, the MIM has declared its support for the friendly party Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). Elections for the 119-member Telangana Assembly are scheduled on November 30.

In an interview with Madhyamam, Owaisi shared his views on his party’s vision, its expansion plans, and how the Muslim community can solve its problems.

Q: Why is MIM contesting only nine seats in Telangana?

The party takes a decision after a detailed discussion on the political situation and how the party can play its role effectively in the best interest of the people of the state. It was not an easy decision because there were demands from various constituencies outside Hyderabad to contest, but we have taken a decision in the interest of the people. We have seven seats in the present Assembly, and this time we decided to field our candidates from two more constituencies (Jubilee Hills and Rajendranagar). In the rest of the state, we are appealing to people to cast their votes for BRS.

Q: Why is MIM supporting BRS when there are allegations that it has not done much for the Muslims?

For the last 10 years, BRS under the leadership of Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao has done well to take the state ahead on the path of development and to safeguard the interests of all sections of people. The state has progressed in all sectors, and it is also implementing several welfare schemes for minorities and other weaker sections of the society. The BRS government is giving Rs.2,000 crore for minority welfare, which is the highest budget for minorities by any state in the country. During the last 10 years, it has spent about Rs.12,000 crore for the education and welfare of minorities. The government has opened 204 residential schools and colleges for minorities. About 1.80 lakh minority students are studying in these schools and colleges. Most importantly, the government has ensured law and order and communal harmony. There were no communal riots or curfew in the state in these 10 years. If you look at the overall picture, the performance of BRS is satisfactory. KCR is a secular leader, and we hope that the state will march ahead under his leadership.

Q: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has alleged that MIM and BRS are hand in glove with the BJP. He also says that wherever in the country Congress is fighting BJP, MIM comes and fields its candidates to help BJP?

Rahul Gandhi is also taking the names of the states where MIM has never contested. It’s the habit of Congress and its leaders to blame our party for their failure and incompetence in checking the rise of BJP. Rahul Gandhi lost the election from Amethi. Did MIM contest from there? Congress is losing wherever it’s in direct fight with the BJP. So they should ponder over this.

We are fighting both BJP and Congress. Both the parties don’t want to see Muslims become a political force. While BJP is trying to finish off the identity of Muslims as a minority, the Congress wants to use Muslims only as voters. Congress wants us to only cast our votes for them and then sit at home.

Both the national parties have set up their own shops. One party distributes the certificate of nationalism, the other party issues the certificate of secularism.

In fact, the communalism of Congress is no longer a secret. Congress leader in Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath clearly stated that Congress paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The locks of Babri Masjid were opened during Congress rule, which ultimately led to the construction of the Ram temple. It was under Congress rule that Babri Masjid was demolished.

Q: Rahul Gandhi also said that MIM works as the B team of BJP and takes money to field its candidates against Congress?

Rahul Gandhi should tell people how much Congress gave to MIM for its support to the Manmohan Singh government from 2004 to 2012. He should also reveal how much money the Congress gave to MIM for supporting the nuclear deal and Pranab Mukherjee’s candidacy for the post of President of India.

We are not the B or C team of any party. Whatever Congress leaders may be saying, our stand is clear. We have our own identity, and we work according to our policies and programs.

We believe that unless Muslims have a political voice, they can’t solve their problems. If the government in Telangana is allocating the highest budget for minorities and is implementing various schemes for their welfare, it’s because Muslims have a political voice here in the form of MIM.

Q: Why does MIM not release an election manifesto?

Unlike other parties, which are seen only during elections, MIM works among people for the entire term. It’s the only party whose MLAs sit in the party office every day to meet people. Any person can come and meet the MLA concerned with his or her grievance. Our work is our identity, and we work every day to solve people’s problems.

Q: There is an allegation by MIM’s opponents that it is a communal party?

There is nothing new in these allegations. They have been making these allegations for the last so many years. This is a baseless allegation. MIM works for all people, irrespective of religion, region, or caste. We made a non-Muslim leader of our party mayor of Hyderabad, and there are several non-Muslim corporators from our party.

We are fighting for the Constitutional rights of not just Muslims but also Dalits and other weaker sections.

Q: Congress in Telangana has also announced a minority declaration and promised to enhance the minority budget to Rs.4,000 crore?

What is the track record of Congress? It only gave riots and curfew. People no longer trust Congress. See what is happening in Karnataka after Congress came to power. Karnataka Public Service Commission has announced that Muslim girls in Hijab can’t attend the exams. The Congress had also promised to ban Bajrang Dal but has done nothing.

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TAGS:Rahul GandhiCongressBJPAssembly electionsAsaduddin OwaisiMajlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen
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