Hours after the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) said it had withdrawn support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi and the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh, the state Congress leadership made desperate overtures on Monday to placate the ally.
Earlier in the day, MIM chief and the party’s lone member of Parliament, Asaduddin Owaisi, said his party had decided to end its support to the Congress-led governments after accusing the state government of being “communal”.
“I am personally trying to meet Asaduddin Owaisi and convince him to take back his decision. The MIM is a valuable ally,” Botcha Satyanarayana, state Congress president, told Business Standard from Hyderabad.
While MIM’s decision poses no immediate threat to the government in Andhra Pradesh, it comes at an inopportune time for chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, as there has already been talk of his possible replacement. MIM has also put forward a change of leadership in the government as a condition to reconsider its decision.
MIM has seven members in the Andhra Pradesh assembly and had been in alliance with the Congress in the state since 1999.
The MIM pull-out notwithstanding, the Congress still enjoys a majority with 153 members in the state assembly, against the required 148 in a House of 294 members. If the speaker accepts the resignations of three Congress MLAs who have already switched loyalties, the strength will come down to 152, still above the half-way mark.
Congress sources say MIM’s pull-out, announced at a press conference in Hyderabad, was being treated with utmost seriousness in party circles. Chief minister Reddy and Satyanarayana had an hour-long meeting, after which it was decided that the state party chief would make efforts to meet Owaisi personally.
MIM has been dissatisfied with the state government’s handling of minority issues but the immediate trigger was the arrest of seven MIM politicians over the Bhagyalaxmi Temple controversy in Hyderabad. “The present crisis may be a small issue but it pertains to a sensitive issue. The Congress has always attracted the minority vote because of its secular image. There is no way we can lose it or even be seen to be losing it,” said a insider, who did not want to be identified.