2024 LS polls: MBT-Congress talks over Hyderabad seat go nowhere

Hyderabad: The Congress in Telangana seems to be playing a game of cat and mouse with the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. While central representatives of the grand old party have been holding talks with MBT president Amjadullah Khan for him to be the alliance candidate for the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat, actions by state leaders indicate otherwise.

“Talks are going on with MBT. The AIMIM is not going to return to the Congress alliance and Asaduddin Owaisi’s larger than life image is also on their mind. We have been holding talks with the Congress since 2012 but so far it has not borne any fruit. The only person serious against AIMIM is Rahul Gandhi, but the recent meeting of Telangana chief minister Revanth Reddy with AIMIM’s second-in-command Akbaruddin Owaisi indicates something else,” said an MBT source.

Soon after the Congress won the elections in December 2023, Revanth Reddy in January held a meeting with Chandrayangutta MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, who is the younger brother of AIMIM president and Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi. It set-off rumours that both sides may rekindle their alliance or work together. The AIMIM had severed its ties with the Congress in 2012 after its legislators were arrested for protesting against the unauthorised expansion of the Bhagyalakshmi temple on the Charminar.

“In the state unit here, only a few leaders speak against him openly, while others keep mum due to business ties. In 2012 after the AIMIM broke its alliance with the Congress, the then Andhra chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy told me that they will form an alliance with MBT. In the last nine years under BRS, MBT was the only voice for Muslims against the BRS and the Congress benefitted of it,” said MBT head Amjadullah Khan.

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The MBT source also stated that while talks are on to bring Amjadullah on to contest the 2024 Hyderabad Parliament seat, it is nowhere close to fruition. “Congress is still hoping that AIMIM will join the INDIA alliance,” the source added.

However both Congress leaders from the state and an AIMM functionary said that it is highly unlikely that Owaisi will joins hands with the grand old party. “So far there is no serious effort from our side to bring the MBT on board, but things will get clearer only as elections get close,” said a Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee leader from Hyderabad.

In the 2023 Assembly election, MBT’s Amjadullah Khan almost won the Yakutpura seat and came second, as AIMIM’s Jaffer Hussain Meraj won it by just 878 votes. The MBT however did not perform well in other seats it contested against the AIMIM however.

AIMIM not interested to join INDIA alliance

An AIMIM functionary said that joining the INDIA alliance is out of the question as the the national scenario for the Congress is bad. “Asaduddin Owaisi has already said that the party will contest from the Hyderabad, Aurangabad and Kishangunj (Bihar). So we have nothing to do with the INDIA alliance. All over India the Congress is in retreat. However, there may be local issued based support with the Congress, which is not necessarily election related alone as there will be constituency work,” he added.

The AIMIM has a history of generally working with ruling parties. After it cut ties with the Congress in the joint Andhra Pradesh earlier, Asaduddin Owaisi warmed up to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) supremo and ex-Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) after the state’s formation in 2014. Both of them always maintained that they were on “friendly” terms and even supported each other in the 2018 and 2023 state elections. However, now it looks like the AIMIM may get friendly with the Congress if need be as well.

Asaduddin Owaisi won the Hyderabad Parliament seat with over 5 lakh votes and about 59% of the vote share. The BJP came second with about 2.35 lakh votes or 28% of the vote share, while the BRS candidate got about 63000 votes, and the Congress close to 50000.