Away from Cong and towards Jagan
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Having snapped ties with the Congress, Asaduddin Owaisi's MIM party is looking to ride piggyback on Y S Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party and expand its base beyond Hyderabad, where Owaisi is MP.
Both sides have given signs of striking what would be a win-win deal. For the MIM, it would help establish a foothold in Muslim pockets of Telangana and Rayalaseema regions. Amid signs that the Congress's position in being overtaken by the YSR Congress, the MIM's decision to abandon an apparently sinking ship is strictly out of political considerations. The row over a temple abutting the Charminar provided the opportunity for Owaisi to sever ties with the Congress after 13 years.
For the YSR Congress, which already appears the strongest contender in the next Assembly elections, the expected tie-up will be an insurance of Muslim votes that would traditionally have gone to the Congress. Jaganmohan's late father, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, shared a good relationship with the MIM, which helped bring the Congress Muslim votes from across the state in 2004 and 2009.
"Y S Jaganmohan Reddy is my friend. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy was my friend,'' Asaduddin Owaisi said when asked if his party was tying up with the YSR Congress. "We will think of tie-ups when elections are held. You never know… even Arvind Kejriwal's party is there."
YSR Congress honorary president Y S Vijayalakshmi hailed the MIM's decision to snap ties with the Congress. "The Congress is in a minority now," she said.
With a sizeable Muslim population in several pockets of Telangana and Rayalaseema, the MIM is hoping to field its own candidates who would be backed by the YSR Congress. The MIM has seven MLAs, all elected from Hyderabad following an understanding with the Congress, which did not field candidates in those constituencies. This understanding with the Congress also enabled the MIM to share the mayor's office in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation for a two-year period.