The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is still undecided on supporting Congress’ joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the Presidential poll, scheduled for 17 July. Sources in the MIM told The Sunday Guardian that the party might abstain from the election to prove that it is equidistant from both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress.
MIM’s senior leaders are meeting in Hyderabad on Sunday, 16 July, to discuss the issue and take a decision on the Presidential election. MIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi will chair the meeting where all its seven MLAs will be present. The Muslim minority dominated party has two MLAs in Maharashtra. An MIM legislator, who preferred anonymity, told this newspaper that the party had supported neither A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, NDA candidate for the 20012 presidential polls, nor the Left’s Laksmi Sehgal, and had instead abstained from voting. In 2007, the MIM had not supported UPA candidate Pratibha Patil over issues with her remarks against Muslim women.
If MIM abstains from the Presidential poll, it may not cause any major damage to Meira Kumar, but it could be a setback to the Congress which is trying to sew up a grand “secular” alliance against the ruling BJP-led NDA coalition. This also reflects the failure on the part of the Congress leadership in reaching out to the MIM.
The MIM’s absence will also help widen the vote-gap between the BJP’s Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar in Telangana. TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is keen on ensuring Kovind’s resounding victory from Telangana. Former Rajya Sabha member V. Hanumanth Rao expressed doubt that the MIM might be trying to please the ruling TRS by snubbing Meira Kumar.