Battle royale between MIM, MBT

HYDERABAD, DEC. 30. A no-holds-barred battle is on the cards for the MCH divisions in the Old City. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen will be crossing swords with its arch rival, the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), yet another time. What will be the denouement? A repeat of the verdict of 1999 or will the MBT rise phoenix like? Only time will tell, but both the sides are spoiling for a titanic clash.

For Mr. Amanullah Khan's MBT it is a do or die battle, a last ditch attempt to salvage some prestige. Smarting from the crushing defeat inflicted by the Majlis' fledgling legislator, Mr. Akabruddin Owaisi, the veteran leader is expected to extract a revenge. In at least 40 wards in the Old City pitched battles are expected between the Majlis factions. The war drums are already rolling in the divisions under Chandrayangutta, Charminar, Yakutpura, Karwan, Asifnagar and ward 16 of Malakpet Assembly segments.

Mr. Khan, who represented the Chandrayangutta Assemgly constituency for 22 years, tasted defeat for the first time in 1999 when Mr. Akbaruddin Owaisi trounced him by a margin of 12,000 votes.

The senior leader parted ways with the Majlis after a confrontation with the Majlis supremo, Mr. Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, at a public meeting at Phoolbagh in April 1993. Later, he was expelled from the party. But before this he was replaced as the floor leader in the Assembly with Mr. Ibrahim Bin Abudllah Masquati. Subsequently, Mr. Khan formed the MBT or the Save Majlis Movement and went to town with a blistering attack on the Majlis leadership.

The reasons that prompted him to quit Majlis still remains. Mr. Khan still feels there is no internal democracy in the Majlis and never tires of accusing Mr. Salahuddin Owaisi with "betrayal" on the Babri Masjid issue. The Congress struck a deal with the Majlis whereby the Deccan Medical College was given recognition by the Medical Council of India and in return Mr. Owaisi chose to keep mum over the Babri Masjid demolition. That's what the MBT leader says even to this day.

During the 1994 Assembly polls, Mr. Khan reaped rich dividends. He retained not just his Chandrayangutta seat but also managed to wrest the Yakhutpura seat from the Majlis. But in the 1999 election the Majlis bounced back and trounced Mr. Khan in his own stronghold.

During the last two years, Mr. Khan is keeping a low profile, confining himself to organising the annual bandh on December 6, the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary.

"People think the MBT is a spent force. Just because we have no representation in the Assembly it doesn't mean we are finished. The civic polls will show", asserts the veteran of several battles.

Mr. Khan feels that since 1999 the MBT's ratings have gone up. Reason - the non-performance of the Majlis. The AP Transco raids and arrests in the Old City have alienated the people from the Majlis as the latter did nothing to mitigate their suffering. On the other hand, the MBT intervened and stopped the raids at several places. "The masses are with us though we are out of power", says Mr. Khan.

The Majlis, however, dismisses the MBT of being a party with little consequence. The Majlis leader, Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, doesn't think the MBT is a force to reckon with.

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