From Charminar to Sindhu to Dial 100 – The soundbytes of Mahmood Ali

Telangana Home minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali sounded insensitive when he blamed the veterinary doctor for calling her sister instead of `100′, the police helpline number, when she was feeling unsafe. Ali wanted to make the point that help would have reached the 27-year-old faster if she had called the police when strangers were making her feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. The problem however, was in the manner in which he articulated the thought. He made it seem as if the vet was to blame for what befell her. 

This is not the first time that Ali, who was Deputy chief minister of Telangana in charge of Revenue portfolio during the 2014-18 term of the TRS government, has got into trouble with his one-liners. 

In August 2015, the Telangana government wanted to bring down the crumbling Nizam-era Osmania Hospital in Hyderabad and build a new hospital in its place. There were protests by heritage lovers who wanted the state not to destroy a part of the city’s history and instead work on restoring it instead. When asked about it, Ali responded, “The hospital is very old. Instead of spending Rs 100 crore on the maintenance of an ancient structure, it is better to construct a new building.”

Ali would have been well-advised to stop there. But he was now on song. He went on to say, “If after a thousand years, Charminar becomes weak, it too will be demolished.” Following an uproar and ridicule over social media, Ali denied speaking about the Charminar.

Exactly a year later in August 2016, Mahmood Ali looked silly when he said “better coaching” will be provided to Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu to ensure she won the gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

“Sindhu is our daughter. The government will provide a better coach. We are confident that she will win gold medal,” he told a broadcast news agency. Little did he realise the contribution of Pullela Gopichand in getting Sindhu to the Olympic podium.

Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi asked KT Rama Rao to advise Ali not to make such obnoxious comments. The fact that Sindhu in 2019 went on to win the World championship should have been enough for Ali to eat his words. 

Ali is a dairy businessman and a fierce loyalist of K Chandrasekhar Rao. By virtue of his designation, he is seen as the foremost Muslim face of the TRS but in reality, he is a Muslim leader without a base and comes via the Legislative Council route. He was the only minister to be sworn in as minister in December along with KCR though the CM downgraded Ali from the ornamental designation of deputy CM to just a minister. 

On Friday, before bragging about 100, Ali ought to have found out how the vet’s family was made to go from one police station to another past midnight because the cops could not decide whose jurisdiction it was. But if the response time to a call on 100 is indeed an impressive five minutes, as Cyberabad commissioner VC Sajjanar claimed, Ali’s ministry needs to use the opportunity to impress upon citizens to reach out to the 24×7 helpline in times of distress. 

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