Political observers in Telangana are miffed at the way Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is trying to win over hearts and minds of Muslims in the name of inclusive governance. Since he came to power, he has been implementing many welfare schemes and programmes for socio-economic uplift of minorities in the state.
Notable among these are a marriage scheme called Shaadi Mubarak; uniform income ceiling for availing of welfare schemes; skill development training, reimbursement of tuition fees and scholarship schemes; age limit relaxation (21 to 55 years) for self-employment and increase in budgetary allocation.
In recent weeks, KCR has added some more to the long list of benefits being showered on the minorities. Some of them are: an exclusive industrial estate and IT corridor for Muslims in the state; Hyderabad International Islamic Cultural Convention Centre on 10 acres on city outskirts; subsidy for self-employment units; 10 percent quota in the double-bedroom housing scheme; strengthening of the Minority Development Corporation, Urdu Academy and the Wakf Board; new residential schools and hostels.
Until now, all these welfare measures have attracted little attention. But what has happened in the last few days in the State Assembly has become a topic of intense public and political discussion. While the House witnessed some interesting scenes that were reminiscent of royal durbars, KCR, once again, declared his unwavering commitment to minorities’ welfare and unveiled a slew of measures for their economic uplift. On the other hand, MIM floor leader Akbaruddin Owaisi showered praise on the CM. Their emotion-filled sentiment-laden speeches and statements looked and sounded like those coming from members of a mutual admiration society.
The question being asked is why KCR going out of his way to woo the Muslims who constitute 12 per cent of the state population two years ahead of Assembly polls? Is it really necessary for him and his party to appease MIM?
Really speaking, with his party’s formidable position in the Assembly, and the kind of ‘wave’ he is sailing on, KCR is assured of next victory. But, according to political pundits, KCR doesn’t want to take any chances with the electorate. TRS seems to have other long-term objectives in mind. Muslim support and vote count during a political crisis. Dozens of welfare schemes for Muslims have already generated tremendous goodwill for KCR and this groundswell is a scoring point for him in future political battles.
Interestingly, the turning tide is unnerving for MIM which thrives on the belief that it is the one and only representative body of Telangana Muslims. But its recent setbacks in local and Assembly polls in other states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh when it tried to expand its footprint beyond the Old City might have made it more circumspect on its home turf.
Fearing it could lose its support, MIM seems to be throwing its weight behind TRS – in an unabashed manner. The reason, it is suspected, is MIM is in some sort of quid pro quo deal with TRS. If it is, it will unfold in the coming days.