Even as all the major political parties in Andhra Pradesh are busy in finalizing suitable candidates for the 42 Parliamentary seats, Hyderabad is the one constituency where the battle lines have already been drawn. The only Muslim dominated Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh (now with whopping 70% Muslim electorate after the delimitation) Hyderabad has traditionally been a stronghold of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and it has won all the elections from here since 1984.
But for the first time the MIM is going to face a challenge from with in the community as a prominent personality Zahid Ali Khan, Editor, Urdu Daily Siasat has announced his plans to contest as independent candidate against sitting MP Asaduddin Owaisi of MIM.
Interestingly Khan will have the support of almost all parties including TDP, TRS, CPI, CPIM and he hopes to get the support from Praja Rajyam of film star Chiranjeevi too.
Asad Owais, who is now also the president of Majlis after his father’s death, had won Hyderabad seat with a margin of 1.48 lakh votes in 2004. But in an interview Zahd Ali Khan exuded confidence that people of Hyderabad were now looking forward to a change. Excerpts:
Q: What made you enter active politics and contest elections at this stage?
Every Indian has a democratic right to enter politics. It may look a bit late to others but I feel it is right time for me to join politics. My goal is to uplift Muslims, especially the Muslims of old city of Hyderabad, educationally, economically and socially to restore their lost place in the society and I am sure people will support me.
Q: What came as a trigger for your decision?
A: The pathetic conditions of Muslims today. They are facing serious problems on every front. More over they are facing a new threat of being trapped by the police machinery in to false cases to malign the community and their religion. But on the other hand I also see a new awakening in the community since the demolition of Babri Masjid and the Gujrat violence. Muslims also want to get ahead educationally and I hope that in next 10 to 20 year the Muslim community will also be fully educated and literate at par with others.
I want to take forward this vision and entering politics will be helpful in achieving this goal and to prepare the community for the challenges of this century.
Q: Why is your agenda focused on Muslims? Is it because you are going to contest from Hyderabad LS constituency?
A: Certainly. Because helping and serving the people of your own community and co religionists and uplifting them is the duty of every Muslim. If people call it communalism I am not willing to accept it. I want to know how is it communal to strive to uplift one’s own community. Generally communalism is seen as something bad but in my view communalism is good if you are taking care of your community without harming the others.
Q: In what capacity are you going to contest from Hyderabad?. Whether your will have your own party?
A: I reject the idea of forming ones own party because then you will be driving away others. I will become untouchable for others no body will support me. It will be better if I come forward as an independent candidate. It is highly encouraging that every party is willing to support me as a candidate and ready to cooperate with.
I want that except BJP all the parties and their members who agree with my programs come forward to support me. TDP has already committed its support. TRS is supporting with me. Chiranjeevi has also told me that if I fight as an independent he will support me.
As far as the CPIM and CPI are concerned, they are with me from the beginning. They have always been sympathetic to the problems of Muslim community in the country. They way they opposed the deal with the United States and left the government for that was commendable. Muslims in this country are strongly against the atrocities being committed by the US from Afghanistan to Iraq.