by Asif Yar Khan
For the last half-a-century, the Charminar Assembly segment in the southern part of the city has not only been a strong bastion of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), but has also turned out to be a stepping stone to the Indian Parliament for two generations of the Owaisi family.
The party won the Charminar seat for the first time in 1967 and since then, it sort of became an AIMIM citadel which opponents, despite best efforts and trying out various strategies, have failed to breach.
This time around, senior party leader Mumtaz Ahmed Khan is testing his luck from the seat.
AIMIM leader the late Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi bagged the seat in 1967 and made his debut as a legislator. He won the seat then by defeating Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) candidate CL Meghraj by a margin of 7,500 votes. Since then, the party’s firm grip on the constituency ensured its victory even in the toughest of times.
The Charminar seat was a launch pad for party president Asaduddin Owaisi too. In fact, Asaduddin made his debut in full-fledged politics after he contested and won the Charminar seat in 1994. He defeated MBT candidate Hussain Shaheed by a margin of 40,544 votes in an election which had a total of 19 candidates and 17 of them forfeiting their deposits. Asaduddin contested from the seat again in 1999 and won.
Interestingly, after representing the Charminar assembly constituency, both Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi and Asaduddin Owaisi moved over to the Parliament.
During the delimitation of constituencies in 2009, Charminar was bifurcated with a part of it transferred to the newly carved out Bahadurpura assembly constituency. After the delimitation, Ahmed Pasha Quadri won the seat defeating TDP candidate Ali Bin Ibrahim Masqati by 10,695 votes and in 2014, he defeated TDP candidate MA Basith.
The highest polling percentage in Charminar Assembly constituency recorded so far was in the year 1983 at 81.37 percent.
This time around, AIMIM leader Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, who previously successfully held the Yakutpura seat is contesting from here and his close rival is expected to be Congress candidate Mohammed Ghouse, who quit from AIMIM and joined Congress a few years ago.
Salar and the revival of AIMIM
Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, popularly known as Salar, meaning commander or leader, was the man who restructured and shaped the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen as a full-fledged and effective political party.
Lead actively by him, the party first won a seat in the municipal election from Mallepally in 1960. In the next two years, it contested Assembly elections and won the Pathergatti Assembly seat in 1962.
SS Owaisi, after the victory, gathered together eminent members of the community and the party started contesting from multiple seats.
In 1962, Salahuddin won from the Pathergatti Assembly seat as an independent candidate and later won from the Charminar constituency in 1967 which he represented till 1984. He then entered the Parliament winning the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat in 1984 and setting a record of sorts with six straight terms.
The AIMIM suffered a setback in 1993 when its legislator Amanullah Khan ‘revolted’ against the party, charging it of adopting a weak stand on the Babri Masjid demolition issue. He was suspended by the party.
Khan took away Yakutpura legislator Mumtaz Ahmed Khan and floated the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT). In the elections held in 1994, the strength of AIMIM slipped from the earlier 4 seats to just one i.e., Charminar, while two seats it earlier held were won by MBT candidates, Amanullah Khan and Mumtaz Ahmed Khan.
Salar did pull the party strength back into shape soon. He died in 2008 and since then, his son Asaduddin Owaisi is the president of the AIMIM.
Article first published on TelanganaPost.
Asif Yar Khan is a senior journalist and writer.