» Election » Lowest turnout in Hyderabad leaves MIM guessing

Lowest turnout in Hyderabad leaves MIM guessing

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
April 17, 2009 03:08 IST
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The lowest percentage of votes in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency in the first phase, despite a no fierce battle between two Muslim candidates, has come as a big surprise to many observers.

The state capital recorded only 54% of around 15 lakh votes making the main rivals Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Telugu Desam Party wonder about its implications on their winning prospects.

MIM's sitting member of Lok Sabha Asaduddin Owaisi was putting up a brave front and exuded confidence that he will romp home with a comfortable majority. His rival Zahid Ali Khan of the TDP was also confident of his victory on the ground that along with significant number of Muslim votes he also polled a large number of Hindu votes thanks to the TDP poll symbol "cycle" and the support of Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the two Left parties.

The polling day began on a murkier note with Urdu daily Etemaad, owned by Owaisi family carrying a banner headline "exposing" the secret understanding between the TDP and the BJP to ensure the defeat of the MIM.

The report said that in view of the imminent victory of MIM even in the face of united fight by the Grand Alliance partners led by TDP, Chandrababu Naidu spoke to his friend and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu urging him to divert BJP's vote to the TDP candidate Zahid Ali Khan because the saffron party's candidate Satish Agarwal had no chance of winning in Hyderabad.

The report alleged that under this agreement the BJP cadres were directed to ensure that the Hindu votes are cast in favour of the TDP, specially in assembly segments like Karwan, Goshamahal and Malakpet where majority community has significant population.

"If Zahid Ali Khan makes it, that will be entirely due to the tacit support of the BJP", said a MIM leader.

The low turnout especially in the Muslim areas has come as a big blow to the MIM, whose famous strong cadre was nowhere to be seen in many parts of Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency to guide the voters towards the correct polling stations and booths.

Voters, specially the Burqa clad women were seen making rounds of different polling station to find their names in the voters' list. As they were not provided the voter's slip with all the details like serial number in the list by any party, the election staff at the polling stations returned them empty handed. There was a galore of such complaints in Bahadurpura and Karwan assembly constituencies in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituencies and Nampally assembly under the Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency. Even in Charminar assembly constituency, the fortress of MIM, the turnout out was the lowest at 42%.

But MIM sources expressed confidence that despite this low turnout out Asaduddin Owaisi will make it. They said that out of the total 7.5 lakh votes polled on Thursday, 4.5 Lakh were Muslim votes and 3 lakh Hindu votes. They say that even if Zahid Ali Khan gets 50,000 Muslim votes and BJP succeeds in transferring him 1 lakh Hindu votes, Owaisi will be far ahead of him with 3.5 lakh votes. Congress was also expected to get about 50,000 of Hindu votes and another 1.5 lakh votes were expected to go the BJP way despite the silent campaign.

MIM was also confident of winning the assembly seats of Charminar, Bahadurpura, Karwan and Malakpet easily. It was facing a tough battle from rival Majlis Bachao Tehreek in Chandrayangutta and Yakutpura.

The observers point out that the voting percentage in Hyderabad was going down since 2002 when only 42% percent votes were polled in municipal elections and only 48% votes in 2004 Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

Another reason given for the low turnout was the dejection of the voters in Hyderabad with the fight between Asaduddin Owaisi and Zahid Ali Khan, which was seen more like a personal fight rather than for the interests of the community.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad