This city of Charminar may be plagued by bad roads and erratic supply of drinking water but the Owaisi family-led Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, which does not even have a manifesto, has been winning this Lok Sabha seat since 1984 banking on Muslim votes.
Late Sultan Salahuddin was the first Owaisi to win as an Independent in 1984 despite a strong wave in favour of Telugu Desam Party. Salahuddin, fondly called Salar, was MP from here for six consecutive terms till 1999 before he passed on the mantle to his younger son Asaduddin Owaisi, who maintained the winning streak in 2004, 2009 and is now seeking a third term. BJP, which has been unsuccessfully trying to break the MIM bastion for three decades now, has fielded RSS man Bhagwanth Rao this time with the support of TDP. Being the leader of Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samiti, Rao is known as a "religious but moderate" person having cordial relations with all communities. Whether he can upset Asad's apple cart is the big question that is arousing a lot of curiosity here.
Congress has fielded S Krishna Reddy while YSR Congress has put up B Sainath Reddy. Majlis Bachao Tehreek, founded by former MIM member Md Amanullah Khan, has put up Syed Mustafa Mahmood. Muslim voters, who account for about 65 per cent of the total electorate here, have been the USP of MIM, analysts say. "Consolidation of Muslim votes is the main reason for MIM's continued success in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency," an analyst says, adding this has been ensuring victory of the Owaisis despite the constituency remaining under-developed over the years.
In the past five years, Asad got 130 development works sanctioned under the MP's Local Area Development Scheme but over 100 of them still remain incomplete. Bad roads and drains and erratic supply of drinking water are the biggest problems haunting people in the constituency.
Asad talks of "my vision" for Hyderabad where there is no shortage of drinking water. "My vision is of a Hyderabad with no power cuts and no drinking water scarcity. Hyderabad should become the focus of all development activity as it is the engine that drives growth in Telangana (post-bifurcation)," the MP says.
Unlike other parties, MIM does not promise anything to the voters. It doesn't have a manifesto but purely banks on its vote bank. "We have taken care of education and healthcare besides financial needs of minorities on an unprecedented scale," Asad points out.
With 18.22 lakh voters in all, Hyderabad parliamentary constituency comprises Malakpet, Karwan, Goshamahal, Charminar, Chandrayangutta, Yakutpura and Bahadurpura Assembly segments. The Charminar, Yakutpura, Bahadurpura and Chandrayangutta segments are completely dominated by Muslims while Malakpet and Karwan too have sizeable number of voters of the community. Only Goshamahal is dominated by Hindus and it was this lone Assembly seat that MIM lost in 2009.
In 1996, Salar defeated BJP's senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu by a margin of over 83,000 votes. Asaduddin, a barrister, upheld his father's legacy and won the seat comfortably in 2004 and 2009 with a margin of over one lakh and 1.13 lakh votes, respectively. In 2009, Asad faced a rather tough challenge as he took on Siasat newspaper editor Zahid Ali Khan, the Telugu Desam candidate supported by two Left parties and TRS, but romped home comfortably in the end.