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No Muslim representation in Telangana’s Congress government

Radiance News

Hyderabad, Dec 8: After winning the Assembly elections in Telangana, the Congress party formed the government on December 7 with Anumula Revanth Reddy taking oath as the Chief Minister.

Senior leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka has been appointed Deputy Chief Minister.

The duo along with 10 ministers took oath at a grand ceremony held at L.B. Stadium here and attended by thousands of people.

Revanth Reddy took the oath as the second chief minister of India’s youngest state in the presence of Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi.

The ministers who took oath are N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, Damodar Rajanarasimha, Komati Reddy Venkat Reddy, D. Sridhar Babu, Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy, Ponnam Prabhakar, Konda Surekha, Danasari Anasuya Seethakka, Tummala Nageshwar Rao and Jupally Krishna Rao.

The party claimed to have ensured social justice in constituting the Cabinet but it has not given any representation to the Muslim community. Some party leaders, however, explained that all ministers were chosen from MLAs and since no Muslim was elected on Congress ticket, there was no representation to the community.

However, the Cabinet will be expanded soon to give representation to other sections and regions who were left out.

Senior leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir is likely to be inducted whenever the Cabinet is expanded. He suffered loss in the Assembly election in Nizamabad Urban constituency. He is likely to be nominated to the Legislative Council. He may be the only Muslim face in the Cabinet.

Former MP and former Indian Cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin and Mohammed Feroze Khan, who were also defeated in the polls, may not find a place.

Since the Cabinet can have a maximum of 18 members and there are many contenders for Cabinet berths among the MLAs and also from a couple of seniors who could not win the elections, the possibility of nominating two Muslim leaders to the Council to include them in the Cabinet appears remote.

Ever since the formation of Telangana State, the Cabinet has had only one Muslim minister. In both the terms of BRS, Mohammed Mahmood Ali served as the minister. In the first term, KCR made him Deputy Chief Minister and he held the revenue portfolio. After BRS retained power in 2018, Mahmood Ali was made home minister. In both the terms, he was nominated to the Legislative Council.

Interestingly in both the terms, BRS had only one Muslim MLA – Mohammed Shakil Aamir but he was not made minister. He was also the lone Muslim candidate of BRS. He was elected to the Assembly from Bodhan both in 2014 and 2018 but this time he lost the election to P. Sudershan Reddy of Congress.

Be it BRS, Congress or previously TDP, all parties claiming to be secular field Muslim candidates only in Muslim-majority constituencies in Hyderabad which have been traditional strongholds of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). They field the Muslim candidates as a formality in these seven constituencies, knowing fully well that they will have no bright prospects against AIMIM.

Despite expectations that this time, Congress will field 4-5 Muslim candidates outside the constituencies held by AIMIM, it gave tickets to only two Muslims – Mohammed Ali Shabbir and Mohammed Azharuddin.

Shabbir lost the election from Nizamabad Urban. BJP’s Dhanpal Suryanarayana won the seat by defeating Shabbir by over 15,000 votes. BRS candidate Ganesh Bigala, who was elected in 2014 and 2018, finished third this time. The division of Muslim votes between Congress and BRS candidates appears to have helped BJP.

Shabbir was elected twice from Kamareddy in 1989 and 2004. He had served as a minister in the Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh between 2004 and 2009 and played a key role in four percent reservation for backward Muslims in government jobs and education. He, however, lost election from the same constituency in 2014 and 2018.

This time, Congress shifted him to Nizamabad Urban as Revanth Reddy was fielded from Kamareddy to challenge KCR as he decided to contest from two constituencies (Gajwel and Kamareddy). In a surprising outcome, both KCR and Revanth Reddy were defeated by K. V. Ramana Reddy of BJP.

The other Muslim candidate fielded by Congress was Azharuddin in Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad. He lost to sitting MLA of BRS, Maganti Gopinath by over 16,000 votes. BJP candidate finished third. AIMIM had come under sharp criticism from Congress for fielding a Muslim candidate from this constituency. Rashed Farzuddin of AIMIM finished a poor fourth.

Azharuddin is working president of the state unit of Congress party. There are demands from some sections that he should be made a minister.

It remains to be seen who gets the Cabinet berth – Mohammed Ali Shabbir or Azharuddin.


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