Something is not quite alright between the TRS and the MIM, allies till the other day. Leaders of both parties have been rubbishing each other ahead of the municipal polls on 22 January, leaving many wondering what has gone wrong between K Chandrasekhar Rao and Asaduddin Owaisi.
Telangana Animal Husbandry minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav fired the first salvo when he dismissed the MIM whose influence was restricted to the Old city. He also said there was no alliance with the MIM for the local body polls. Leader of the MIM in the Telangana assembly, Akbaruddin Owaisi bristled ridiculing Yadav as a leader who could not ensure his son’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections from Secunderabad.
Away from Hyderabad, TRS MLA from Bodhan in Nizamabad district Mohammed Shakeel took on Asaduddin Owaisi, terming him an agent of the BJP. Shakeel who is the lone TRS Muslim MLA said he was hurt that Owaisi abused him but never spoke a word against BJP leaders.
Owaisi hit back, accusing the TRS, Congress and the BJP of working together to hurt the MIM. He claimed to be in possession of an audio recording in which leaders of the three parties are allegedly conspiring to defeat the MIM in Nirmal.
What’s cooking? The answer to that lies in the sense of discomfort the TRS feels vis-a-vis Owaisi’s sharp position on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the NRC. The ruling party in Telangana is keen not to be seen in the same light as the MIM lest it upset the Hindu voters. With the BJP focusing on a TRS-MIM tango, KCR it appears, does not want that impression to gain ground further.
Given the tight control the first family of the TRS wields over the party, it is unlikely that the leaders would have spoken out against the Owaisis and the MIM without a nod from the top.
KCR knows his politics. Last year, the BJP took advantage of his remarks on Hindutva on the election campaign to paint him as a lesser Hindu. That is perhaps one of the reasons why the TRS despite voting against the CAB in Parliament, has not joined any agitation on the ground. KCR does not wish to risk antagonising the Hindu vote in any way.
KT Rama Rao, who is otherwise not given to visiting temples, also made a much-publicised visit to Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh. This too was seen as an attempt to project KTR, who is lead the TRS campaign in the civic elections, as a Hindu who wears his devotion on his sleeve.
But despite all the posturing, once the heat and dust of elections settles down, things may move back to normal. KCR who likes to project himself as a secular leader, is more than comfortable having Owaisi by his side so this may well be playing out for the cameras.