Hyderabad: With protests against Citizenship Amendment Act spreading in Telangana and the state’s municipal elections approaching, NewsMeter held an exclusive interview with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. The parliamentarian reveals to us why AIMIM supports K Chandrashekar Rao, his plans for the upcoming municipal elections, development of Hyderabad and why he distanced from Congress.
How do you plan to go about with Telangana municipal elections 2020? Anything special from AIMIM this time?
We are in the process of selecting candidates. Once that’s done, from January 11th my party members and I will be campaigning. We hope to better our performance than last time. Every election is different, so we will have to devise our campaign in a different way. It is municipal elections and hence we have to deal with very local issues. Every municipal constituency will have a different issue and problem. So we have to tell what we did and what we intend to do.
Owaisi has emerged as the single major voice for the Muslim community in the country. Do you agree?
I am not a voice of a particular religion or community. I am an elected representative of the people. My basic duty is to abide by the issues pertaining to the people of India, whether it relates to any subject, be it economy, unemployment or defence. So, it's not my ambition or intention to become the leader of Muslims. That other people can do. I’m trying to do my duty as an elected representative.
How do you plan to take this fight forward across every state?
As of now, our party is quite strong in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In Maharashtra, we recently won a parliament seat. We have municipal corporators over there. In Bihar, we have an MLA. In Uttar Pradesh, we have municipal corporators. There are four-five states where we are focusing a lot. So, we are trying our best to ensure that our party is strengthened. I plan to visit these states more frequently and strengthen our party.
Why do you like KCR so much?
In the last five and a half years, we have not seen many communal issues in Telangana. There have been one or two unfortunate incidents. But apart from that, there is complete peace in Telangana. Also, the Telangana government has taken great steps in social welfare measures. They have established schools for Muslim minorities and backward classes. More than 2 lakh boys and girls are studying in these schools. They have some very good schemes to improve the literacy of weaker sections. There are even some overseas schemes.
Apart from these, politically I am of the opinion that KCR is a very strong opponent of BJP. That is why we have a good relationship with him and we supported him in parliament elections. Also, we have to understand that, in South India, we don’t have a politician with a calibre similar to KCR. In the present political atmosphere, KCR has to be there to stop BJP. Congress has no intellectual honesty to take on BJP.
So KCR’s Rule or Jagan’s rule?
Jagan is Chief Minister to another state and he has no presence in Telangana. Also, he ia a new CM. Both KCR and Jagan are different in their approach. KCR is a more experienced politician and he has spent years in power. He fought for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh successfully.
For Jagan as well, it was not an easy political journey. He also has done a lot of hard work and sacrifices to reach where he is. However, both are different.
Keeping apart the conspiracy theory of Congress that AIMIM is splitting its vote bank, why did you distance from Congress party?
There is nothing wrong in distancing from Congress. We oppose the Congress party for many reasons. One of the reasons is that they are not able to stop BJP. Wherever they have contested, they lost to BJP. In a democracy, I have the right to oppose anyone.
Why are certain sections of Hyderabad still awaiting development?
Development has taken place in the old city. I accept that more development has to be done. Majority of the works have been done on basic infrastructure. There are certain areas where the process is going on. I hope that in the next two or three years we will be able to get sanctions for the pending projects in Old city.
Another important requirement which we are lagging behind is road widening work. Because of the lack of funds in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) the road widening work is not being expertised and we need to work on that. But apart from that, other development works are going on. In this day and age, I can't hide. With an RTI application, everything comes out. It's there for everyone to see.