They play a decisive role in 40 to 50 seats in both Seemandhra and Telangana regions

The Muslim factor continues to bedevil parties across the political spectrum in the State. Particularly, in the changed political landscape post bifurcation, which way the minorities votes will swing has assumed importance.

Right from the crowded by lanes of the old city in Hyderabad to the drought prone areas of Anantapur district, the question doing the rounds is how the Muslim voters will exercise their franchise.

The largest minority group in the united Andhra Pradesh, the community accounts for 9.2 per cent of the total population. According to one estimate, it can play a decisive role in about 40 to 50 constituencies in Seemandhra and Telangana regions.

Both in Rayalaseema and Telangana the Muslim voter percentage is 12.5 per cent while it is 4.5 per cent in south coastal region. In scores of segments in Chittoor, Kurnool, Anantapur, Kadapa, Nellore, Guntur and the Telangana districts there is a substantial presence of Muslims. The community is definitely in a position to decide the outcome of the coming polls, it is said.

Different community-specific organisations are at work to ensure that this ‘inherent power’ to influence events is used judicially. Analysts feel the electoral behaviour of the Muslims will be different in Telangana and Seemandhra.

However, there is near unanimity as far as the BJP is concerned. The community is bent on halting the march of the saffron party by tactical use of its votes. The Telugu Desam, which has gravitated to the BJP, has fallen foul with the minorities. The party is not expected to get the community support this time.

Though Muslims are happy with the TRS for realising the dream of Telangana, they suspect its credentials vis-à-vis the minorities. There is also a fear that it might side with the NDA post election. Muslim votes are expected to get divided between Congress and TRS in the region.

In the residuary State, the minorities are likely to sail with the YSRCP. But they are unsure about the commitment of the YSRCP leader, Jagan Mohan Reddy, for uplift of the community. “The picture is hazy and the stand of political parties on minority issues is still unclear”, says Majlis president Asaduddin Owaisi.

Apart from its traditional stronghold in Hyderabad, the Majlis plans to contest quite a few Assembly seats in Telangana and Seemandhra this time. The party enjoys considerable clout among minorities and expects the community to support secular candidates where it is not in fray.

The All India Majlise Tameer-e-Millat, a socio-religious group, has appealed to Muslims to support the Majlis in the coming elections in the State and the Muslim League in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

But in final analysis, how the Muslim masses vote will be determined by their core concerns regarding security, education and economic issues.