BJP’s Madhavi Latha likely to give tough fight to Owaisi

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Asaduddin Owaisi, whose party AIMIM overcame many challenges to hold on to Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat for 40 years, is likely to face tough battle this time with the BJP fielding businesswoman and philanthropist, Kompella Madhavi Latha, who has been working in Muslim-majority old city.

The BJP has named Kompella Madhavi Latha, chairperson of city-based Virinchi Hospitals, as its candidate for the forthcoming polls.

Owaisi, seen by many as the face of the Indian Muslims, may face spirited challenge from the BJP whose leaders are confident of wresting the seat from All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

A professional Bharatanatyam dancer, Madhavi Latha has never been an active politician but multiple factors led to BJP picking her as its candidate to take on Owaisi in his stronghold.

The BJP had never fielded a woman in Hyderabad and with Madhavi Latha said to be active in philanthropic activities in parts of the old city, the party is looking to tap the Muslim votes.

Known for her pro-Hindutva speeches, Madhavi Latha also campaigned against triple talaq. She is said to be in touch with various Muslim women groups.

The 49-year-old is a trustee of Lathamma Foundation and Lopamudra Charitable Trust and also runs a small fund for destitute Muslim women. She also runs a gaushala.

Hoping for a BJP ticket, she had already started meeting women in some parts of the old city. Last month, she posted on social media her photographs distributing ration among burka-clad women. The programme was organised under the aegis of Lathama Foundation.

Madhavi Latha organises education, healthcare and food distribution programmes and offers to help the needy with a missed call to her mobile number.

After BJP announced her as its candidate, she added ‘Mission Hyderabad Parliament’ to her profile on social media. She thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President J. P. Nadda, Amit Shah and other leaders for giving her the opportunity to contest from Hyderabad.

A bitter critic of AIMIM, she says that the party never tried to address the problems of poverty and poor civic amenities in the constituency.

A post-graduate in political sciences from Koti Women’s College, she is looking to succeed where BJP stalwarts like Venkaiah Naidu had failed in the past.

BJP, which has set the target of winning 370 Lok Sabha seats across the country, is focussing on Telangana, where it had bagged four out of 17 seats in 2019.

The party is eyeing all the Lok Sabha seats in the state. Union minister and state BJP President G. Kishan Reddy recently exuded confidence that BJP will wrest Hyderabad from AIMIM.

He claimed that minorities in the city wish to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term. “The people of the old city are looking for a change. In the Assembly polls, the BJP’s vote share increased considerably in the Hyderabad Parliamentary constituency while the Majlis vote percentage declined,” said Kishan Reddy, who will be seeking re-election from Secunderabad constituency.

No matter who is in power in the state or in the country and no matter which wave is sweeping elsewhere, AIMIM retained its grip on Hyderabad in every election since 1984.

On the 66th anniversary of AIMIM’s revival on Saturday, Asaduddin Owaisi exuded confidence that he will retain the seat with increased majority.

In 2019, he had retained the seat with a majority of 2.82 lakh votes against his nearest rival Bhagvanth Rao of BJP. The difference between the same rivals in 2014 was 2.02 lakh votes.

Asaduddin Owaisi’s father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was elected from Hyderabad six times. In 1996, he had defeated BJP’s senior leader M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Salahuddin Owaisi opted out in 2004 due to ill-health and since then Asaduddin Owaisi has been representing the constituency.

The delimitation of constituencies in 2008 helped the party further consolidate itself. As three urban Assembly segments replaced the rural segments which were earlier part of Hyderabad parliamentary constituency, AIMIM became virtually invincible.

The party’s strength in the Assembly also rose to seven, from its earlier highest tally of five.

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