Kolkata: The strong showing of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in the Bihar assembly elections this month has intensified speculation about the party’s plans for next year’s polls in neighbouring West Bengal.
However, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, a US-educated lawyer by qualification and four-term MP from Hyderabad, said his party is yet to take a call on Bengal, where it has not contested any election so far.
Even so, Owaisi, whose party is seen as a platform for the voice of the Muslim voter, was quick to lambast Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for doing poorly by the state’s Muslim voters, who are believed to comprise a loyal constituency for the Trinamool Congress leader.
According to Owaisi, the social and economic condition of Muslims living in Bengal is “worse than many places in the country”, adding that the community is almost alienated under Banerjee’s government.
“I have empirical evidence to prove that. And I also have statistics to say this,” he said.
Owaisi also described the BJP’s 18-seat haul in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as a failure of the “so-called secular forces in the state… in protecting the interests of minorities in Bengal”.
“We have seen how polarised an election it was in 2019. Mausam Noor (Trinamool candidate) losing in Malda is an eye-opener,” he told ThePrint. “Malda and Murshidabad, parts of north and south Bengal, have a considerable Muslim population. Muslims dominate many of these assembly segments. And, they are looking for an alternative force,” Owaisi said.
“They need a platform to express their views. We have scope in West Bengal, but we have to talk to the local units and understand how far they are prepared to take up the challenge. Fighting an election is a different ballgame,” he continued. “I may travel to Kolkata or we can hold the meeting elsewhere. But we will decide soon on this.”
Also Read: What the Owaisi phenomenon says about Indian Muslims & future of ‘secular’ parties
The Telangana-based party won its first assembly seat in north India in a bypoll last year, from Kishanganj in Bihar, drawing a sharp reaction from Mamata Banerjee in October 2019.
After the AIMIM held a public meeting in the state and claimed it was well-attended, Mamata blamed “a party from Hyderabad” for bringing “extremism in Muslim politics” to Bengal.
Bengal has a Muslim population of close to 30 per cent, and Mamata is believed to have enjoyed unflinching electoral support from the community for a decade now.
Speaking to ThePrint, a senior Trinamool Congress leader made light of the AIMIM’s plans for Bengal, saying Muslims are now “well aware” of its “intentions”.
“The Bihar election results helped us show the original face of the AIMIM. As of now, only we called the AIMIM the B-team of the BJP, but now Muslims have seen it. An average Muslim voter now knows what happened in the Bihar elections,” said the Trinamool Congress leader, who did not want to be named.
“They voted for the AIMIM and the party won five seats. It is because of the AIMIM that the BJP formed the government in Bihar. Had there been no AIMIM, the Mahagathbandhan would have won the election. Muslims in Bengal would never fall prey to AIMIM’s agenda to aid the BJP,” the leader added.
However, ThePrint’s analysis showed that AIMIM didn’t eat into ‘secular’ parties’ votes enough to cost the Mahagathbandhan the Bihar elections.
Also Read: India’s Hindi belt politics has a southern challenger — Asaduddin Owaisi
He is working for Bjp .not in favour of muslims.
Lincoln’s Inn is in UK not US. Barrister saheb got his degree in law from UK. Just because US had a President named Lincoln it does not mean Lincoln’s in will be in US.
US-educated lawyer ? Wikipedia says “He is a barrister by profession and studied at Lincoln’s Inn of London”
One can never be certain about these things, but I believe Mr Owaisi is a Trojan Horse. He made the difference between victory and defeat in Bihar. Not one Muslim MLA in the ruling formation in Bihar, despite having 16% minority population. Bengal has 27%, as per the 2011 Census. A fertile hunting ground. My heart beats for Didi.
That is good. Muslims should be represented as themselves, not somebody else representing them. Mamata should convert to Islam as she wants their votes and want to be their defender.
Owaisi won 5 seats in Bihar, what did the idiot Kushwaha get in the bargain.
He has been on the path of self destruction ever since picking up fight with Nitish.
Is Chirag following his foot steps. ???
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