This Article is From Nov 26, 2020

In Tejasvi Surya Vs Asaduddin Owaisi, Old Rivalry Plays Out In Hyderabad

In the run-up to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, Bangalore (South) MP Tejasvi Surya has logged on to a fierce battle with the MP from Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi, attempting a "hostile takeover".

In Tejasvi Surya Vs Asaduddin Owaisi, Old Rivalry Plays Out In Hyderabad

Tejasvi Surya had called Asaduddin Owaisi the "modern-day Mohammed Ali Jinnah". (File)


As the BJP's Tejasvi Surya takes on AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi in a deeply polarizing campaign for local polls in Hyderabad, a rivalry between India's two main IT hubs is playing out.

Tejasvi Surya is a BJP MP from Bengaluru, while Asaduddin Owaisi represents Hyderabad.

In the late 1990s, when SM Krishna and Chandrababu Naidu were Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad's attempts to challenge Bangalore as the premier tech destination was a constant.

That rivalry has been revived years later, but in the campaign for civic polls in Hyderabad. Voting will take place in 150 municipal constituencies, or wards, in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election on December 1.

In the public sparring between Bangalore (South) MP Tejasvi Surya and Asaduddin Owaisi, the narrative has veered far away from civic amenities and taken a communal twist.

Tejasvi Surya called the AIMIM MP the "modern-day Mohammed Ali Jinnah'' who wished to turn Hyderabad to "Hyderabad of Pakistan". Mr Surya alleged that Mr Owaisi was relying on the votes of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Rohingya living illegally in the Old city.

"Who is Owaisi? Owaisi is Jinnah's new avatar. Every single vote you give BJP is a vote for Bharat, Hindutva, to make country stronger. A vote for Owaisi is a vote against India and everything that India stands for," said Mr Surya during a campaign meet.

Accusing Mr Owaisi of speaking the language of "rabid Islamism, separatism and extremism like Jinnah", Mr Surya said: "I want to tell Akbaruddin and Asaduddin Owaisi, this is not the time of Nizams. This is the time of Hindu Hruday Samrat Narendra Modi. You will be nothing here."

In response, Mr Owaisi challenged the BJP to furnish a list of "illegal" settlers within 24 hours and demanded to know: "If there are 30,000 Rohingya in the electoral list, what is Home Minister Amit Shah doing? Is he sleeping?"

The AIMIM leader accused the BJP of "breaking" the unity of the country. "You destroy mosques, but we are the ones who are collecting Rs 10 crore for a temple," he said, campaigning in Hyderabad.

Referring to Mr Surya's tweet addressing residents of Hyderabad as "the people of Bhagyanagar", Mr Owaisi said: "Their intention is to create hatred. This fight is between Hyderabad and Bhagyanagar. It is your responsibility now to decide who will win."

At another meeting, he quipped: "These people need to have some biryani which will bring them back to their senses."

But while even the BJP denies it, it is counting on the Owaisi factor to win votes in Hyderabad.

Mr Owaisi has often been accused of helping the BJP win seats by playing the role of a vote-cutter. The charge is that his party candidates have cut into the "secular vote" - like in Bihar recently. Even though electoral data does not entirely bear this out, anti-BJP parties led by the Congress are convinced that this strategy results in a win-win for both Mr Owaisi and the BJP.

Though the BJP is hoping to make inroads in wards with a significant Hindu population, taking away votes from the Congress and Telangana's ruling TRS, its shrill campaign is likely to help Mr Owaisi hold on to his support base.