BJP’s spectacular performance in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections has taken the political analysts across the country by surprise. Given the high-voltage campaign by the saffron party in the city with arrival of the Union Home Minister and the CM of Uttar Pradesh, it was expected that party’s performance will substantially improve compared to 2016 elections, however, the increase in seats by 44, was unexpected.
The party won 48 seats out of 150, four more than 44 of AIMIM, and seven less than 55 of TRS. The saffron party has become the second largest party in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal area and its massive rise has made Asaduddin Owaisi insecure. AIMIM has been pipped to the third place by the saffron party and, therefore, a scared Owaisi is now shifting his focus to North India.
First he made a grand entry in the Bihar Assembly Elections, securing 5 seats and winning a good percentage of Muslims votes. And now, he is focusing on the upcoming West Bengal Assembly Election of 2021. Muslims constitute around one third of West Bengal’s total population and a good number seats in the state are Muslim dominated.
Mamata Banerjee is already scared of Owaisi’s entry into West Bengal’s politics and referred to him as extremist. “I am watching that there are some extremists among minorities,” Mamata told her party workers in Cooch Behar. “They have their base in Hyderabad. Don’t listen to them,” she added.
However, Mamata Banerjee cannot deny the growing popularity of Owaisi among the North Indian Muslims, and the massive surge of his party across the country including Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal. Owaisi, who is losing ground in Hyderabad to BJP, will definitely shift his focus towards North India. Moreover, given the fact that Northern India is larger in terms of the total number of seats in the Parliament and Assembly Constituencies, and the population of Muslims is significantly higher compared to Southern India, penetrating in the states like UP, Bihar, West Bengal, and Maharashtra, heading north this time will be a natural choice for Owaisi.
Also, Northern India lacks a pre-eminent Muslims parties like IUML in Kerala, and the Muslims in the region used to vote for so called ‘secular parties’ like TMC, RJD, SP, Congress and so on. But, with the presence of Owaisi, the equation is likely to change dramatically.
Leaders like Mamata Banerjee, KCR are caught in a Catch-22 situation. The minority-vote, despite her constant appeasement politics, is not solidly favouring them. It is fragmented in favour of the party at best. Meanwhile, in the course of trying to win over an unwinnable vote bank, the ‘secular’ parties are alienating Hindus big time, leading them to support the BJP. AIMIM being a potential vote-cutter of the ‘seculars’ should serve as a reminder to leaders like Mamata Banerjee and KCR, and all other political leaders in the country, that minority appeasement will drain excessive energies, without promising fruitful dividends.
“The result is not what we expected. We fell short by 20-25 seats than our expectations. 10-12 seats saw a margin of less than 200 votes. There’s nothing to be disappointed, we will be single largest party,” said Telangana minister KT Rama Rao or KTR, the Chief Minister’s son.
TRS would be able to form a government in GHMC with the help of Owaisi, but it would cripple him just like it did in the state government. And the next time, BJP would surely paint KCR and Owaisi as ‘chor chor mausere bhai’ to win the election.