In a setback to Congress in Andhra Pradesh, its long-time ally Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) today withdrew support to the UPA government at the Centre and the state government.
Alleging that Muslim minorities were targeted in a series of communal incidents in the last few years, Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi, who heads the seven member MIM in the 294-member House, accused the Kiran Kumar Reddy government of allowing "Sangh Parivar activists to have a free run".
He said the state government did not listen to MIM, its ally since 1998, to rein in the Sangh Parivar activists.
The flash point in the ties between Congress and MIM came with a tarpaulin being allowed to be laid on a religious structure at the historic Charminar here yesterday, which Owaisi said is in violation of the High Court order to maintain status quo as on October 30.
"MIM cannot continue its support to the Congress government in the state and consequently to UPA at the Centre in the prevailing circumstances," he said.
The MIM leader, however, said he would continue to have a lot of respect for UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
MIM has seven MLAs in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly and a lone member (Asaduddin Owaisi) in the Lok Sabha.
The strength of Congress in the state assembly is 155 plus one independent. Although, three Congress MLAs have switched loyalty to the YSR Congress of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, MIM's decision does not appear to pose an immediate threat to the Reddy government.
When asked about the future allies, Owaisi said the issue would come up at the time of elections.
"Jagan Mohan Reddy is my friend. Kiran Kumar Reddy was my friend. What happens, I cannot say. Let elections come," he said.
Congress Rajya Sabha member M A Khan said they have made all efforts to see that the MIM does not sever ties.
Responding to the development, state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana expressed confidence that all the issues would be resolved and that there is no threat to the Congress government.
Dismissing the MIM's allegation that the state government supported 'Sangh Parivar' activists, he said the issue was essentially due to the situation in the city.
Main opposition TDP welcomed the MIM's decision to withdraw support to the Congress.
It, however, felt that it is the responsibility of Governor to see who enjoyed majority.
YSR Congress Party demanded that the TDP moves a no-confidence motion against the Kiran Kumar Reddy government.
UPA 'strong and stable' despite MIM snapping ties: Cong
Congress today claimed that the UPA government is "strong and stable" despite the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) becoming the third constituent to withdraw support after Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and Babualal Marandi's Jharkhand outfit.
Party spokesman Sandeep Dikshit also said the UPA has "got the numbers required" in Parliament and would prove its majority whenever required. He said that the Congress-led coalition will get support of various parties when government puts forth positive reforms initiatives.
"We already have support of parties. We will continue to have majority. We still enjoy support of 280-300 members (in the Lok Sabha). It is a strong and stable government and I have no doubt it will remain a strong and stable government," he told reporters. The strength of Lok Sabha is 543.
Dismissing charges by MIM that Andhra Pradesh government has taken a communal stand and is giving a free run to Sangh activists, he said the basic principle of chief ministers in Congress-ruled states is secularism and any allegation contrary to it is denied.
Refuting suggestions that Congress was bad at running coalitions, he said withdrawal of support by MIM as also Mamata Banerjee's party was for "local reasons" and had nothing to do with any policy issue.
He evaded questions as to whether BSP and SP will support the government if Banerjee brings a no-confidence motion against it in the winter session of Parliament starting on November 22.
MIM, having a lone Lok Sabha member and seven members in the state assembly, withdrew support to the UPA at the Centre and the Andhra Pradesh government, accusing the Congress government there of giving a free run to Sangh activists.