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On November 12, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) severed ties with the Congress, accusing it of encouraging Hindutva elements after a row over a temple abutting the Charminar. More than a month later, as the party faces charges of hate speeches and of instigating communal polarisation, there may be a common thread to the tale — a bid by the MIM to expand out of Hyderabad and cultivate a political base in cities and towns across Telangana with Muslim pockets, ahead of the 2014 elections.
MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, who was arrested on Tuesday, has single-handedly vitiated the communal atmosphere in Hyderabad and these Telangana areas with his speeches. Owaisi spoke in Adilabad and later in Nizamabad in the last week of December and videos of his incendiary speeches went viral on the internet.
Akbaruddin and his elder brother, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin, have also been touring the region. While Asaduddin, a respected lawyer, has stuck to criticising the N Kiran Kumar Reddy government, Akbaruddin — the floor leader in the House — has been working up audiences with fiery speeches.
The Majlis has always maintained it is a secular party, but the speeches its leaders make at the MIM headquarters in Hyderabad as well as in the districts render that claim hollow. True, it runs schools, hospitals and charity organisations but few doubt the party has promoted divisive politics mainly for political gains. The first case against Akbaruddin for speeches promoting communal enmity was, in fact, filed in 1994.
This time, the authorities took no action until a local court, acting on a PIL, directed police of two districts where he spoke to file cases. The delay is likely to cost both the state and the Congress government dear. The controversy has given the BJP an opportunity to flex its muscles in Telangana where it is desperately trying to establish its base both as a supporter and champion of a separate state and of Hindu interests.