HYDERABAD: In a new twist to the vexed Telangana issue, Muslim politicians and organizations have now started opposing the formation of the new state. On Wednesday morning, a team of Muslim leaders from the Congress left for New Delhi to persuade the party leadership that the formation of a new state would jeopardize the interests of the minorities. The Majlis-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) - the main opposition party representing Muslims in Andhra Pradesh - had earlier expressed reservations about Telangana.
The development came after indications started reaching Hyderabad that the Congress leadership may be seriously thinking about taking a decision on Telangana and chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was summoned to Delhi - for the second time in three days - to discuss Telangana matters. On Monday, Y S R Reddy had convinced Sonia Gandhi that a resolution in the Andhra Pradesh assembly agreeing in principle to the formation of a Telangana state would be enough to take care of the party's interest in the forthcoming elections but two days later obviously this is not being considered as going far enough.
"Y S R Reddy has told Madam that he would be able to deliver two-thirds of the Lok Sabha seats from Andhra Pradesh in the elections. Even though Madam felt this was an overestimate, she felt that YSR would be able to win half of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state," a top-level source told The Times of India.
The Congress's interests have been lately jeopardized by the support announced by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to the Telangana cause on Gandhi Jayanti day. The TDP now wants to tie up with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) - the estranged partner of the Congress - for the 2009 elections. The new interest taken by the Congress party headquarters is mainly because of this development which now threatens to adversely affect the party's prospects.
It is understood that the Muslim group that has now rushed to Delhi is selling the line that Hindutva elements would have a chance to entrench themselves in Telangana and therefore its formation must be opposed. As an indicator of the shape of things if a new state is formed, they cite the Vatoli incident of last fortnight in which a family of six Muslims was beaten and burned to death in a Telangana village. "That is why the BJP is so keen for a new state of Telangana" is what some Muslim leaders argue.
Speaking to TOI, Asaduddin Owaisi, the new boss of MIM said: "It is not that we are opposed to Telangana per se. If a new state is formed the tally of seats of our party in elections will go up. But we have to first ensure the safety and welfare of Muslims and other things such as the future of Urdu language. Will these be safe in Telangana is the issue," Owaisi added.
Analysts, however, feel that the "Muslim reluctance card" has been very smartly played by Y S R Reddy, who is opposed tooth and nail to the formation of the new state. "Finding himself isolated politically on this issue, the master politician that YSR is has played this masterstroke. The Congress, which strongly represents minority issues, cannot ignore their views," a political analyst said.