Asaduddin Owaisi led AIMIM, which the self-attested secular parties call B-team of BJP, has stepped in to Bihar assembly election to disturb the equations of secular alliance. AIMIM won the assembly seat of Kishanganj with 10,000 votes in the last by election, pushing Congress to third position. And, this time his party is coming more strongly, in alliance with many smaller outfits.
A key member of Owaisi’s United Democartic Secular alliance (UDSA) is former Union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav, a four-time MP from Jhanjharpur in the Mithilanchal region. He also tried to bring in many Dalit outfits under the umbrella to make a Dalit-Muslim alliance, like he did in Maharashtra, but most of the Dalit voters have their own leaders like Manjhi, Paswan etc.
However, even if Owaisi cannot not make a significant mark as far as number of seats is concerned, he can surely prove crucial in making RJD-Congress alliance lose badly given the fact that his party would bifurcate the Muslim votes which till now went to the Congress or Lalu’s party. Especially in Seemanchal region, where the Muslims are in majority in many pockets, Owaisi can ensure NDA’s victory by divison in the Muslim votes.
“Owaisi is the B team of the BJP. He has been pushed here by the BJP to polarise voters. The more he speaks, the more polarised voters become,” remarked RJD MLA Mohammad Nematullah.
Although Owaisi has denied all the allegations and said, “This is like an old cassette being played. But tell me, in the parliamentary polls, I contested just one seat in Bihar. What happened in the other 39 seats?” Owaisi hit back, referring to the fact that the RJD and its allies, except the Congress, drew a blank in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“No questions are raised about the Congress joining the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra,” he added.
AIMIM has been trying to get a foothold in the state of Bihar for over 10 years and it looks like it has started to make some inroads. AIMIM coming in the fold is undoubtedly going to make Lalu Yadav’s successor Tejaswi Yadav and Congress queasy. The districts AIMIM has fielded its candidates in are mostly Muslim dominated areas. Katihar district has three assembly seats Balrampur, Bari, and Kadva which are Muslim dominated. Purnia has two Muslim dominated seats in Amaur and Baisi whereas Jokihat in Araria, Keoti in Darbhanga are the other two seats.
Owaisi’s AIMIM had a similar modus-operandi in the Maharashtra assembly elections in 2014 where it contested on 25 seats and made a significant dent in the Congress vote bank. To top it all, AIMIM even won 2 seats in the state.
Caste plays a pivotal role in the politics of Bihar. Barring a few castes, Hindus have moved towards the NDA and BJP in particular, but the arrival of Owaisi translates into doom for Congress and RJD whose traditional vote bank in the Seemanchal region will be under threat. It is well and truly possible that if AIMIM somehow musters even 3-4 seats in the region, it could have a decisive say in who forms the government in the state, amidst a triangular competition.
The Hindi heartland of Bihar is set to see some vicious fighting in the coming months as the political landscape gets more and more charged. AIMIM and controversy are interchangeably used terms and therefore one should not be surprised that communal and hate speeches rain from the party which is spearheaded by none other than the Owaisi brothers who have a knack to fan communal discord.
The outcome of Bihar elections might be difficult to predict at the moment but one thing is ascertained and that is BJP is set to gain the most from AIMIM jumping in the fray.