Syed Khalique Ahmed & Masihuzzaman Ansari
NEW DELHI—Encouraged by excellent performance of his party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi has announced that his party will contest the forthcoming assembly elections in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. His party won five seats in Bihar out of 20 seats in contested.
While the next assembly elections are due in West Bengal in April-May 2021, in UP it is due in February-March 2022. After Bihar assembly poll results, posters of Owaisi and his party have already started appearing in some pockets of West Bengal.
In interviews to TV channels and print media, he said that Muslims never benefitted from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government in Bihar because the Muslims did not have any “independent” political voice in the party. While all the good educational institutions were set up in Nalanda, Patna or Darbhanga by all previous governments, Seemanchal region with sizeable Muslim population was ignored. The literacy rate in Seemanchal is only 37 per cent against state literacy rate of 50 per cent.
Responding to questions that Muslim voters, who earlier voted the RJD and Congress, have shifted to his party (AIMIM), Owaisi said that tallest Muslim RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui lost to a Yadav candidate of BJP in Keoti assembly constituency. “Why did this happen? There is realization among Muslims that they have perhaps to do what the Yadav community did”, he told a newspaper.
He said that Yadavs with only 14 percent of population elected 57 MLAs in 2015 Bihar elections and Muslims with 17 per cent of the total population were able to elect only 24 MLAs. The number of Muslim MLAs this time came down to 18. “What does that speak about our participative form of democracy? You don’t have a Muslim voice….You assume that we are only voting machines. And our job is to uphold your form of secularism, which is a farce…There is disenchantment, a yearning for political leadership”, he told The Indian Express.
In his Facebook post, Owaisi said, “Congress is still shouting ‘vote katwa’ just as before. They’ve already started blaming their own failure on AIMIM’s success in #BiharElections”.
He said that his party won five seats, Mahagathbandhan(MGB) won nine seats and NDA six seats from the 20 seats where his(AIMIM) party contested. “On 6 seats where NDA won, the victory margin was higher than our votes. NDA would have won regardless of our candidate. In other words, MGB failed to defeat NDA on these seats”, he replied to the Congress charge.
“In Sherghati, RJD fielded a candidate from extremist Durga Vahini but still won. What does that say about radicalisation & ‘vote cutters’?”, he asked, responding to charges of radicalisation levelled against him.
Replying to a charge by a Congress leader that Owaisi was radicalising the Muslim community, he said that it was surprising that those who helped Shiv Sena to form an alliance government in Maharashtra were accusing him of playing communal politics.
He said that Hindus, particularly Dalits and OBCs also voted for AIMIM candidates.
AIMIM President said that his party candidates won because of the hard work done by him and his party workers. He said that that he spent 15 days in Seemanchal holding public rallies and meeting people when the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was holidaying. Regarding Rahul Gandhi’s statements in Kishanganj that Owaisi travelled in helicopter, he asked if only Rahul Gandhi had the right to travel in helicopter.
Attacking Congress and RJD leadership, he said that both the parties distanced themselves from anti-CAA agitation. He said that they did not support the anti-CAA agitation and also did not speak against the arrest of Muslim youths under UAPA in Delhi thinking that it will benefit the BJP. AIMIM leader said that these parties don’t have any ideology and they only thought of benefits.
He accused the Mamta Banerjee government in West Bengal of having arrested a large number of Muslims in the last eight to 10 months and sending them to jail.