In a significant development which could alter political equations in Andhra Pradesh, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) on Monday withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi and the Congress government in the state.
MIM chief and its lone MP Asaduddin Owaisi announced the decision of the party's executive and declared that his party would now go after the state government for its "communal" and "anti-people" policies.
Addressing a news conference, Owaisi said his party was compelled to take the decision due to "the communal behaviour of Kiran Kumar Reddy's government in Andhra Pradesh".
"We will not be an ally of Kiran Kumar Reddy's government. It is improper that I continue my support to UPA. We will also be our withdrawing support to UPA government," he announced.
In a letter faxed to President Pranab Mukherjee, the MIM president informed him of his party's decision. He sought an appointment with the president to explain the circumstances which compelled MIM to take the decision.
Owaisi said his party legislators would meet Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan to inform him of the decision to withdraw support to the Congress government.
Giving a detailed account of communal riots in the state and Hyderabad since 2010, he alleged that the Congress government not only turned a blind eye to MIM's demands to withdraw cases against innocent Muslims and take action against the guilty but pandered to the Sangh Parivar.
The MIM's decision came after the government allegedly allowed construction of a canopy over a temple abutting the historic Charminar in alleged violation of court orders to maintain status quo.
Owaisi criticised the chief minister for ignoring the high court order to maintain status quo.
"Because of this decision of the Congress government, because of its communal behaviour, dilly dallying, pandering and supporting Sangh Parivar activists for ensuring that the BJP gets strengthened in Hyderabad and surrounding areas, we are compelled to withdraw support," Owaisi said.
The MIM has seven members in the 295-member assembly and its support is crucial for the survival of the Congress government, which has a narrow majority.
The Muslim party, which had bailed out the government during the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion, was non-committal on whether it would support a no-confidence motion if moved by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
"Our main priority is to ensure that this government falls. We will go to every nook and corner of the state to expose the government's anti-people and communal actions," said Owaisi.
"Jaganmohan Reddy is my friend, Kiran Kumar Reddy was my friend," he remarked indicating that MIM may ally with YSR Congress of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who is currently in jail in a disproportionate assets case.
When asked about the MIM's possible alliance with YSR Congress, Owaisi said he would answer the questions at the time of elections. He added that while changing the leadership in the state was the Congress's prerogative, the present government under the leadership of Kiran Kumar would weaken the party in the state.
Saying that MIM had supported the Congress since 1998, Owaisi claimed that it was with the support of MIM and Muslims that the party came to power in 2004.
He said after Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's death in 2009, parts of the state and Hyderabad had witnessed communal violence. He said the inaction of the government emboldened the Sangh Parivar activists.
The MIM leader flayed Kiran Kumar saying he had emerged as the successor of former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in the Congress. "He should remember that by using police force he can't break our will. We will fight till the end, come what may," Owaisi said.
Owaisi demanded an end to the curfew-like situation in his constituency. He said he was ready to cooperate with police and the government in maintaining peace and appealed to the people to remain calm and not believe rumours.