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Why West Bengal may not Go the Bihar Way for Owaisi

MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi at a election rally in Bihar

MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi at a election rally in Bihar

Wooing away Muslims from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is no easy job. The Muslims of West Bengal have learnt a lesson from Bihar experience

By Soroor Ahmed | Patna

OF the five states going to poll in April-May West Bengal, Assam and Kerala have substantial Muslim populations. In fact, in Assam where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power, almost one-third of the population is Muslim.

Yet the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen’s chief, Asaduddin Owaisi, has not disclosed any plan to fight election in Assam and Kerala, which along with Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are going to polls in the summer.

Till now he has focussed only on West Bengal. On January 3, Owaisi met a ‘spiritual’ personality of Furfura Shareef in Hooghly district of West Bengal, Abbas Siddiqui, with a view to contesting Assembly election in the state.

It can be argued that the presence of the All India United Democratic Front of Badruddin Ajmal in Assam and Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala may have compelled him from not throwing the hat in the ring in these two states. But in Bihar, AIMIM did not shy away from the contest even as the Popular Front of India, essentially a Muslim outfit, was in the fray.

While AIMIM joined hands in the recently held election in Bihar with Bahujan Samaj Party and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, the PFI formed an alliance with former MP Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party.

Except AIMIM and BSP, which won five and one seat respectively, the rest three failed to open their account. All the five who won on the AIMIM tickets, had their association with either the Congress or RJD in the past.

By Owaisi’s own logic the first priority should be to wage a big battle against the Indian Union Muslim League because it is in alliance with the same secular Congress, whom the Hyderabad MP blames for all the ills plaguing Muslims of India. It is other thing that AIMIM only broke the two decades long relationship with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh in 2012, that is after the resurgence of the BJP across India.

It remained a mystery as to why Asaduddin Owaisi is not exposing IUML when he is quick to blame former PM Rajiv Gandhi, former UP and Bihar CMs Akhilesh Yadav and Lalu Prasad respectively and the present West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Is it not a fact that AIMIM chief’s late father Salahuddin Owaisi, former MP from Hyderabad, once had good relationship with Rajiv Gandhi?

Should it be understood that AIMIM’s chief is not poking his nose in Kerala as the BJP would not be benefited there as it is too weak.

In the same way it would be perhaps a futile exercise to plunge into the complicated politics of Assam where the BJP is already in power.

The AIMIM has every right to contest from anywhere in India. At the same time citizens of the country have full right—if it is so possible—to ask him why is it that he is so selective in choosing the states and constituencies to fight elections? In his own state, Telangana, the AIMIM hardly goes out of Greater Hyderabad. If Akhilesh, Mamata, Lalu or his son Tejashwi are so bad for Muslims how good K Chandrashekar Rao is for the community in Telangana where his party is in alliance with the ruling Telangana Rashtriya Samiti.

Perhaps Owaisi might have been a more respectable politician had he been honest in approach and quite open in support of the BJP. Secretly supporting the BJP is, in the long run, going to harm his own brand of politics. After all Owaisi should be aware of the fact that the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is thinking in terms of dissociating himself from the AIMIM after the very good performance of the saffron party in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election last month. The BJP’s tally jumped from four to 48 while the TRS got reduced to 56 from 99 in the 150 wards civic body. The AIMIM managed to retain 44 seats as it contested only in 51.

Owaisi should look into his own future as the BJP has performed better than AIMIM in Hyderabad itself. If the trend continues and the TRS abandons Owaisi the AIMIM may be reduced to 1994 Assembly election like situation in which it could win only one seat as the Telugu Desam Party of N.T. Rama Rao swept the polls winning 216 seats.

If Owaisi is encouraged by the result of Bihar election he is somewhat overrating himself as there is a crucial factor which many political pundits had overlooked. That was the presence of a full-fledged politician in the state unit of AIMIM. Akhtar-ul-Iman, the Bihar unit president, had been two-time RJD MLA from Kishanganj district and is the tallest leader of the Surjapuri Muslims. Besides Akhtar, the other four MLAs who won are no novice politicians. One of them, Shahnawaz Alam, is the son of late RJD stalwart and former Union minister, Mohammad Taslimuddin. Shahnawaz himself was a RJD MLA but at the time of distribution of ticket Tejashwi Yadav preferred his elder brother and former MP Sarfaraz Alam. In the contest between the two brothers Shahnawaz won. Owaisi has taken all the credits for AIMIM’s performance when the ground reality was something else. Apart from this the first AIMIM’s victory came in October 2019 by-election four years after it set its foot in Bihar.

In contrast Abbas Siddiqi in Bengal has no political experience. Reports coming from Bengal say that he may float his own party as he nurses political ambition. Owaisi himself is not sure whether Siddiqi will join hands with him or not. Not only that, wooing away Muslims from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is no easy job. The Muslims of West Bengal have learnt a lesson from Bihar experience.

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