Hyderabad constituency: Trying to chase a wild goose with wild talk

If one accepts Madhavi Latha’s positive reading of Quli Qutubshah marrying Bhagmathi, then Sangh Parivar’s idea of Love Jihad falls flat!

ByN Venugopal

Published May 10, 2024 | 11:00 AMUpdatedMay 10, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Debutant Hyderabad BJP candidate Madhavi Latha and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi (Facebook)

The BJP candidate for the Hyderabad parliamentary constituency, Kompella Madhavi Latha, has been harping time and again on the need for change and claims herself to be the harbinger of change. While it has been a moot question whether the electorate has wanted a change from the Owaisi family for the last forty years since the 1984 general elections, Madhavi Latha’s attempts to bring that change appear dubious and debatable. Though there may be a latent discontent against the incumbent family, will the communal polarisation, historical ignorance and hate-mongering by the BJP candidate be able to deliver victory to her?

The ongoing contest in Hyderabad is interesting for several reasons. It is one of the largest Lok Sabha constituencies with over 19.57 lakh voters, where about 60 per cent are Muslims. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has been a formidable force winning the seat for the last nine elections, and its present candidate, Asaduddin Owaisi, has been keeping it in his pocket for four consecutive terms; the difference of votes between the MIM and the BJP has been anywhere between 60,821 (1999) to 282,186 (2019); the BJP is fielding a novice in politics and more so not even a member of that party till a few months ago; and rumours on the choice of the BJP candidate to facilitate Asaduddin’s victory as a “return gift” for his help in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The parliamentary constituency consists of seven assembly segments, six of which returned AIMIM candidates and one BJP candidate in the 2023 elections.

Also read: Madhavi Latha booked

Whatsapp university knowledge

Added to all these specificities, the strange and ridiculous views and gestures of the BJP candidate expressed during the campaign have been overtly communal or smack of Whatsapp university knowledge.
She is known to be the blue-eyed girl of the bigwigs, as her name was included in the first list of 195 announced by the party on March 2, much ahead of the election notification. The way she was ushered onto the dais and introduced to the people by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah was also remarkable. The 49-year-old entrepreneur, a former chairperson of Virinchi Hospitals, is also presented as a versatile personality with a lot of achievements: Bharatanatyam dancer, athlete, painter, the face of the BJP in triple talaq issue, actively worked with Muslim NGOs, helped madrasas and needy Muslims, besides a motivational speaker at Hindu events and contributor to Hindu temples. She also boasts of performing Bharat Bhagya Samruddhi Yagna in late 2023 for the country’s prosperity. In one of her interviews during campaigning, she even claimed that her candidature was proof of ‘Dharma rakshasi rakshita’.

In a highly publicised gesture on one of the main roads in her constituency, she aimed her imaginary bow at a mosque nearby, suggesting that she was going to take on a particular religion. Though the Election Commission has not even served a show cause notice on this blatant communal gesture, she came in for questioning by the media, and her answer was “it was an imaginary Dhanush (bow). It was a dhanush that didn’t exist, theer (arrow) that didn’t exist, theer that didn’t come out.” At a later stage, she even said it was a “false video”, but her intentions of polarising the voters on religious lines and terrorising a particular community have become clear.

Also read: She describes herself as ‘Shakti’

Double standards of campaign

Regarding vote-seeking, her double standards have also come out openly. In many of her public utterances, she said she was not seeking votes and seeing the squalor in the old city, she did not feel like asking for votes. She just wanted to present “facts” and juxtapose “the forty years of backwardness of the constituency under the Owaisi family” with “ten years of development under Modi.” Taking it further, she even compared Hyderabad to Somalia. In high-decibel rhetoric, she said, “Hyderabad is one of the worst. Hygiene, no; road sanitation, no, education no, health no, poverty yes; child labour, yes; early child marriages, yes; destitute children, yes; demolitions yes; land occupation and grabbing, yes.” She says the old city has been “stagnant for 40 years” and delivers provocative statements and challenges in “Them and Us” syndrome. She says her opponents have only “religion and beef” as their slogans.

Interestingly, she also makes oblique comments against the lone BJP MLA under the purview of her parliamentary constituency. T Raja Singh, the MLA, known for his charged communal statements, wanted to contest the seat, but the high command did not give him a ticket, and aggrieved, he is not participating in her campaign. Madhavi Latha is cautiously avoiding making direct comments against him. Still, people are able to identify when she says, “I am not concerned with what somebody said before I joined the party.”

She accuses Asaduddin Owaisi in particular and all MIM leaders (or all Muslims) in general of “hate speech” and condemns them for “the words they speak, the actions they do and indeed how they behave” but stays away from “what happened before I came into BJP”. She claims to have joined politics only to “cleanse”.

Related: Cakewalk for Owaisi?

Fount of ignorance

One can pass that kind of vitriol as customary in the Indian election landscape, but one should be more concerned about her reading or rendering of history in particular.

The funniest part is that she confidently pronounces that “caste is a creation of the British rulers.” Referring to a book called Speaking Tree, she explains that the word caste itself was French, which was not known in the country before the East India Company came here. “There were no divisions, and it was a perfect harmony. It was so united. There were different entrepreneurs following different trades. Children of the entrepreneurs used to go to universities like Nalanda. At one point, the Nalanda’s population was more than England’s. The British destroyed the universities and introduced caste and Christianity to break the unity and harmony of those entrepreneurs.”

It seems she certainly belongs to the school of rewriting history, but who can erase or destroy the records from the 4th century BC Fa Hien to dozens of foreign travellers’ accounts to thousands of stone, copper, leaf inscriptions and writings that talk of caste several centuries before the East India Company set foot here?

Related: BJP’s Telangana Liberation Day politics

The Bathukamma lie

Let alone Indian history, she does not seem to be in the know of the history of Telangana or Hyderabad. She attributes atrocities against women playing Bathukamma to Razakars and equates her electoral opponents to the latter. Indeed, atrocities happened on women playing Bathukamma in feudal Telangana, but recorded history shows Hindu landlords, Jagirdars and Deshmukhs as the culprits.

Razakars have certainly indulged in criminal activities, arson, robbery, killing and raping women, but their heyday was between the Standstill Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Hyderabad on November 29, 1947, and Police Action on September 17, 1948. Any superficial acquaintance with the Telugu calendar tells one that the Bathukamma festival happens in October, and the 10 months of Razakars’ peak did not have that festival. She also says Razakars are outsiders from Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, while history shows that they were a vigilante force developed by the state and served both Hindu and Muslim landlords and the state.

Similarly, she suddenly raises the woman’s identity to change Hyderabad’s name to Bhagyanagar, a name dear to Sangh Parivar. Here lies a strange dilemma. If one accepts Madhavi Latha’s positive reading of Mohammed Quli Qutubshah marrying Bhagmathi, then Sangh Parivar’s whole idea of Love Jihad falls flat!

More ridiculously she compares herself with Bhagat Singh and says she was willing to become a scapegoat like him in demonstrating underdevelopment of Hyderabad under the Owaisis.
Can this wild talk chase the wild goose of Hyderabad?

(N Venugopal is Editor, Veekshanam, a Telugu monthly journal of political economy and society. Views are personal.)

(Edited by VVP Sharma)