By Mohd. Ismail Khan, TwoCircles.net,
Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh is counting its last nights, India’s oldest statehood movement has finally jolted Indian National Congress and its political calculations. As Telangana or in Delhi political catalogue as Rayal-Telangana or a Hyderabad State appears to be a certainty, standing just next to the corner of new arena of south Indian politics, there is one party which begs to differ.
The grand old party of Deccan Majlis-e-Itehadul Muslimeen (MIM) has up their ante against any move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi has emerged as passionate protagonist of United Andhra Pradesh more so from his counterparts in Seema Andhra.
This new found fervor against any move to divide the state according to MIM is to protect the Muslim interest. TwoCircles.net spoke with MIM President and Member of Parliament from Hyderabad Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi on his reservations for a separate Telangana state and impact of a decision which Muslim political leadership is taking against the popular mood in the region.
Excerpts from the Interview:
TCN: You are opposing any move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh so vehemently; it has become more aggressive sine past 2 weeks. What do you think will be the immediate threats to Muslims and minorities in general if Telangana or Rayal-Telangana for that matter is formed?
AO: If the state is bifurcated the only political beneficiary to get out of this bifurcation unfortunately will be the BJP, and it will become strong over here. Secondly the biggest loser will be Congress and the Telugu Desam Party. TDP will lose ground over here badly as once they will be called an Andhra Party. TRS was formed with one point agenda, what will be their utility if Telangana is formed, and who will be benefited by the political vacuum which will be created.
TDP brought up its workers in anti-Congress wave, and people who joined TRS is in away the same, so this political vacuum will be filled naturally by the BJP.
Third point is, those court cases against 4-5 % reservation provided to Muslims in AP , all those cases were filed by people who live in Telangana. This itself shows their mentality. I am not saying in a democratic country you don’t have the right to challenge a Government order, but I am telling this to show these are the people who will go over there.
Fourth point is, you have reported also in your website, that 8-9 months ago in Mahbubnagar by-election where TRS Muslim candidate lost to BJP. What more proof do you want on what I am saying, that itself corroborate what I have been saying.
As a political party this will help me, but community has to pay a huge cost. In case if BJP becomes powerful and gets relevance in this region, then we know their programs and measures which they adopt. That is why we are opposing it.
TCN: So the rise of the BJP will be the major threat to the Muslims in the region?
AO: Of course and rise of those elements who doesn’t believe in the secular ethos of this country.
TCN: Suppose if Congress doesn’t take any decision before this next Parliament session, due to the pressure building up by protagonists of United Andhra like you. Narendra Modi is going to address a widely publicized BJP rally in Hyderabad, imagine if he promises, ‘give us votes, we will give Telangana’ than any how BJP will rise?
AO: See you and I don’t have the knowledge of unforeseen, and BJP want smaller states throughout India, because they know that they can’t grow in larger states. Take for example Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, BJP got power there. So how do you fight BJP, because BJP is promising something and before they do it we will do it. BJP is saying we will build Ram Mandir would secular parties build Ram Mandir to stop BJP?
MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi
TCN: But if Congress takes a decision…?
AO: No, if your argument is right, then will you say BJP is saying if they come to power they will build Ram Mandir, will we allow to build a Ram Mandir then? BJP still has not left abolition of article 370 and imposition of uniform civil code (from their agenda). Will we impose uniform civil code because (if not done) BJP will come to power?
See, whole thing is, this is not the way to fight a communal party like BJP. You have to fight them on our issues and principles. (This way) before fighting them you are conceding the war to them.
TCN: It has been consistent stand of MIM since 1960’s that it is against separate Telangana state. But in your submission to Sri Krishna Committee you did state that if Andhra Pradesh have to be divided than Greater Telangana (Rayal-Telangana) should be formed. That point of time people thought it was something impossible, but now when UPA is likely to take the same decision you should have taken it as your vindication?
AO: No, if you read that report, and if you read the questionnaire provided to political parties, that questionnaire asked us, No. 1) what is your stand on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh?, second question was what are the other options which you can give us? In that option we asked for whole of Rayalseema not just these two districts (Anantapur and Kurnool). And the conclusion was, we stand for united Andhra and we are against bifurcation and in no uncertain terms Hyderabad should be made a union territory. This is what mentioned by us in the report please read it. It is convenient for people to do cut and paste job, I am telling you these are the facts which we mentioned in the Sri Krishna report.
TCN: In Delhi situation seems to be like, on Rayal-Telangana Congress has made up its mind. Now if Rayal-Telangana is going to be a reality than shouldn’t the Muslim leadership and as the party which represents interest of Muslims in Andhra Pradesh should be lobbying for special measures for the community?
AO: For which Muslims?
TCN: For Muslims of both the states, in case Andhra Pradesh gets divided.
AO: When I am saying united Andhra I am looking into Muslims living everywhere, now if I take up the call of Muslims living in this region that you will ask what about Muslims living in that region. That is why we are of the opinion that interest of the Muslims and secularism will be best served in united Andhra Pradesh.
God knows what will happen in future if such an eventuality arises…of course we have a responsibility and inshallah we will raise up to our responsibility.
TCN: Telangana issue is not something which Congress has just decided to concede, there has been a history behind it, and there have been popular movements on this demand. You represent Muslim community, when people in this state see you they perceive you as Muslim leadership, when you are opposing this (demand), people of Telangana will see Muslims as traitors to the Movement. So don’t you think it will create trouble for Muslims living in villages and districts?
AO: I am, surprised with your question! According to many people I am (Muslims) a traitor already, irrespective of Telangana or not. How can I stop them from calling any names? We are living in a democracy and I have every right to hold an opinion, and I will continue to hold an opinion. When I leave this world on the day of judgment, Allah will decide based on my intentions and what I have done, history will decide.
See it (separate Telangana) has been in my political interest and I would have said yes, smaller state make sense to me, 119 seats (in the assembly), 7 MLAs (of MIM) and I can increase the strength, I will have more bargaining power, but what price community have to pay and let history will judge.
My intentions are only for the community (interest) and Allah knows it, so...I don’t care they call me traitor or what, I mean please tell me and make me understand in 112 seats of Telangana (excluding 7 hold by MIM) there is not a single Muslim MLA, why didn’t they elect me, because I am a traitor? You have 17 Lok sabha seats but you have only one Muslim M.P. (himself), why didn’t you elect me? You prove me wrong you and get them elected. You don’t want to elect from your party tickets and then you blame me. You don’t want to vote for us, you don’t tolerate our political rise; you don’t want political Muslim voice that is why all this arguments are created, ‘if you don’t support what will happen to them’? Why seven Muslims were killed in Vatoli (Adilabad), burned alive. Why did they do that in 2008?
TCN: But won’t Rayal-Telangana be a better bargain than just Telangana, it can create a buffer for communal forces?
AO: It’s not a question of bargain; you are not going out there and buying tomatoes and potatoes. You are talking about a state, please understand Muslims suffered when state (Nizam state) was trifurcated, some went to Maharashtra and to Karnataka, we were divided, you are again dividing us now.
How will it help me? How will I speak on behalf of a poor Muslim living in Srikakulam district on the border of Orissa? In this DNA age where communalism is rising everywhere, how do we take up the cause of Muslim community that itself is a huge challenge, and how do you represent them in things like education, jobs, security, this are the things which is in front of me and basing on this things I feel that our issues will be addressed in a best possible way in this way (united Andhra), and if things don’t go according to my plan, than inshallah Allah has something (planned) and things will turn out good for us, but as far as I am concerned this are my issues and this is my stand, ok let people judge me on it.
TCN: There are Muslim intellectuals who are protagonists of separate Telangana state, they argues that if separate state is formed than Muslims will have numerical advantage, their percentage will increase, therefore their political clout will also increase?
AO: Anyway I don’t want to comment on such people, who have not fought any single election in their life.
TCN: So you don’t endorse their view?
AO: In this DNA age, everyone is an expert in politics, apart from me (giggles). Everyone is an expert in electoral politics, so I rest my case, when people full of wisdom have their opinion what can I say.
TCN: If Congress went ahead and form Rayal-Telangana and in worst case scenario turn Hyderabad into a union territory, what will be the course of action of MIM?
AO: Hyderabad can never be a union territory, because Telangana has been a hinterland of Hyderabad. Hyderabad doesn’t have any geographical contiguity as Chandigarh has with Punjab and Haryana. I don’t see any rhyme and reason where you can make Hyderabad a union territory. Will this be acceptable for those protagonist for separate Telangana. Let us assume what you are saying is right, than where will the revenue come for the new state? Do you know 80,000 crore is being paid from Hyderabad and surrounding areas to central and state Government as taxes, and not even 5-10% taxes comes from other parts of Telangana. Can a new state survive without Hyderabad; it is for those people who are fighting (for separate state) to understand what I am saying. And we (MIM) will in no uncertain terms accept Hyderabad as UT.
TCN: What will be your course of action if it happens?
AO: You will see what we will do.