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State Scan

When the script went wrong

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FACING THE HEAT: A scene after a clash between security forces and supporters of Akbaruddin Owaisi and (below) MIM supporters in Hyderabad. The Congress has stepped up its offensive on the party

The MIM, a controversial party at all times, is in big trouble. Its recent woes began when it started taking its old ally, the Congress, for granted

The Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) is in the midst of an existential crisis. After being given a free hand by the Congress in Hyderabad for over four decades, the grand old party is now seeking to decimate MIM. Even as both the Owaisi brothers - Assaduddin and Akbaruddin - have been sent packing to jail, the arrest of more MLAs and corporators are on the anvil.

"There are many cases registered against these MLAs and corporators for rioting, resorting to violence, etc, for long. The police had been content with registering the cases and letting them be. But now instructions have come from the government to proceed against them and execute non-bailable warrants, " says an informed source.

Nobody is clear why the Congress government is now so determined to act against the MIM especially as it had been part of the UPA coalition at the Centre and Andhra Pradesh till it withdrew support a few months ago. The Owaisis had broken off saying that the chief minister Kiran Reddy had turned 'Hindu communal' but never bothered to explain why and how. Some detected a personal angle in the break off but other analysts say that the parting of ways had to do much with the jailed Jaganmohan Reddy who had been making overtures to Assaduddin Owaisi.

Assaduddin visited the jail and spent a long time confabulating with Jagan. "Assaduddin realised that the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh is a sinking ship and decided to hitch his wagon to Jagan. The Congress party was miffed and embarked on a course of vendetta, " says an analyst. Fixing the party bosses was not very difficult considering that MIM leaders had so many cases registered against them. Akbaruddin also walked into the trap by spewing venom against the Hindu community. The hate speeches were designed to raise the temperature and drum up support in the pre-election year.

The speech was then loaded onto websites by some Urdu TV channels run by zealous MIM office bearers. What the MIM had not bargained for was that the speeches would go viral and invite strong condemnation nationally. The Congress government which was dillydallying about arresting Akbar fearing the outbreak of retaliatory violence was forced to act. And once it decided to act, it went the whole hog. Akbar, who is locked up in Adilabad in north Telangana, is made to travel hundreds of kilometres a week by the cops so that he can be presented at various courts in the state. Akbar's personal doctors say that his health is poor, having sustained major injuries in an attack by opponents a year ago.

Though the MIM is a party from the pre-Independence era, it was banned in the wake of Hyderabad's amalgamation into India in 1948. This was because it was linked to the razakars who had wreaked havoc on Hindu subjects of the Nizam in the pre- '48 years. In 1957 the party was allowed to restart but came into its own after 1969 when the first Telangana movement began. In order to break the movement, the then Andhra Pradesh chief minister Brahmananda Reddy used the MIM to mobilise Muslim opinion against Telangana.
After that the partnership between the two parties, the Congress virtually sub-contracted its operations in the old city of Hyderabad (where Muslims comprise 50 per cent of the population) to the MIM. For the first time in 1984, an MIM candidate won the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat and till today the party sends its nominee to the lower house of Parliament. The party also has seven MLAs in the Andhra Pradesh assembly and holds a dominant position in the Hyderabad municipality.

The MIM today has degenerated into a family outfit run by the Owaisis. All insiders who oppose the dynastic rule have been purged from the party. With their virtual monopoly, the Owaisis have diversified into commercial activities. They run numerous engineering and medical colleges and have huge interests in the realty business in Hyderabad. The family has also developed close ties with Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's family. Many had predicted after Jagan left the Congress that it was a matter of time before the Owaisis parted too. But the other side of the story was that Assaduddin Owaisi, the barrister, was in the good books of Sonia Gandhi. In recent years MIM has been diversifying: entering new areas like in parts of Maharashtra which were part of the old Nizam state. Even though Assaduddin has now been released on bail, with the Congress offensive on, the Owaisis have to worry about the party's survival.

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