Following the gains the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has made in the recently concluded Bihar elections, the party is now weighing on spreading its wings to states like Uttar Pradesh and Bengal.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has announced his party will contest polls in the 2021 Assembly elections in Bengal. The move comes after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called Owaisi a “vote-cutter”.
Chowdhury is a five-time MP from Berhampore in Murshidabad district, which has the highest Muslim population in the state.
Slamming the allegations that his party was dividing anti-BJP votes, Owaisi said he was running a political party which had a right to contest on its own. NDTV quoted him as saying: “I will fight in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and will fight every election in the country…. Do I need to ask anyone’s permission to fight the polls?”
The Congress and other parties often criticise Owaisi as BJP’s “B-team”, denting anti-saffron party votes.
In the Bihar polls, the Hyderabad-based party bagged five crucial seats in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region, bagging 1.46 per cent of the votes. According to poll pundits, the party seems to have cut big time in the Tejashwi Yadav-led Mahagathbandhan in the region.
Reportedly, the party is planning the Bengal polls with the support of Abbas Siddiqui, an influential cleric from Hooghly district. Siddiqui in one of his rallies had called himself “a big fan” of the Hyderabad leader.
The coming together of Siddiqui and Owaisi is expected to damage Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s plan to get the majority in the state, similar to what Tejashwi experienced in Bihar.
Being an influential cleric, Siddiqui could divide Trinamul Congress’s Muslim vote share, a fact that could adversely affect Mamata’s game plan. Muslim’s account for over 30 per cent of the vote share in the state and are undeniably a deciding factor on who gets the CM’s chair.
They were a deciding factor even when the Left was in power in the state before Mamata assumed the CM post in 2011. The Trinamul leader is very well aware that any division in the Muslim vote share could adversely affect her party’s prospects.
The AIMIM, after spotting a huge political opportunity in Bengal, has been slowly working since 2011 in the bordering areas that are Muslim dominated. After winning five seats in Bihar, Owaisi is likely to pay more attention to Bengal, now that the grass looks greener for him.