Time for RJD to Rethink Over Muslim Voter as AIMIM Hurts It in Bihar

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Sami Ahmad

PATNA–Rashtriya Janata Dal’s loss, though by a slender margin of 1794 votes, in the by-election of the Gopalganj Assembly seat is a reminder for Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi Yadav that they cannot take the Muslim votes for granted in the coming elections in Bihar.

RJD managed to win the Mokama seat, one of the two seats where the by-poll was conducted on September 6 but the defeat at Lalu’s home district must be hurting it as it felt the heat of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen there. AIMIM’s candidate Abdul Salam managed to get 12214 votes and this Hyderabad-based party is now terming the defeat of RJD as its revenge for the defection RJD engineered in June this year when four out of five AIMIM’s MLAs had merged with Lalu’s party.

With this defeat, RJD it missed the opportunity to take it to the psychological figure of 80 though it remained the single largest party in the Assembly with 79 seats.

By fielding Abdul Salam from Gopalganj AIMIM had made it clear that though it would not win but it had the ability to queer the pitch for RJD. Abdul Salam’s vote percentage is 7.25 while Rabri Devi’s brother Sadhu Yadav’s wife Indira Yadav got 8854 votes on the BSP ticket which is 5.26 percent of the total vote cast which was 168396. The winning candidate Bhartiya Janata Party’s Kusum Devi got 70032 votes and the runner-up RJD’s Mohan Prasad Gupta got 68259 votes.

Kusum Devi’s father late Subash Singh had got 77751 votes in 2020 on the BJP ticket and Rabri Devi’s brother Sadhu Yadav was at number two with 41039 votes on the Bahujan Samajwadi Party ticket. In 2020 RJD was in the grand alliance with Congress and the GA candidate from there was Asif Gafoor of the Congress who came third with 36460 votes. In that respect, RJD’s candidate got more votes this time but that was not enough to beat BJP there.

It seems that AIMIM has succeeded in breaching the traditional RJD vote bank equation of MY. The choice of candidate by RJD has once again proved that it cannot get votes only on a party basis. The importance of choosing the right candidate is once again clear as just before the voting a photograph of RJD candidate Mohan Prasad Gupta went viral in which he was seen in a programme of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and in Sangh’s outfit.

Earlier, in 2020 RJD had fielded a BJP turncoat and RSS sympathizer Manju Agrawal from the Sherghati seat of Gaya district. She managed to win somehow but the Muslims of the area were quite peeved with RJD for choosing her as its candidate.

BJP’s state president Sanjay Jayaswal is now claiming that politics in Bihar would be BJP versus RJD, and it must ring a bell for RJD’s chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav. Though Tejashwi Yadav claimed that RJD’s vote base has increased but his party must think about why it lost the Gopalganj seat. More than the defeat it is the number of votes secured by AIMIM’s candidate that must worry the RJD top leadership.

Back in 2020 when AIMIM had managed to win five seats in the Seemanchal area there were mixed reactions. Many believed that AIMIM had ruined the chances of Tejaswhi Yadav becoming the chief minister of Bihar but he himself kept a cordial relation with AIMIM’s state president Akhtarul Iman. Akhar himself had won first time on AIMIM’s ticket and had offered the RJD the support of AIMIM if the situation demanded.

RJD was desperate to remain the number one party in the Bihar Assembly after BJP had swallowed all three members of Mukesh Sahni’s VIP (Vikassheel Insan Party) and become the number one party. So, it broke AIMIM’s four MLAs and regained the number one position in Bihar Assembly.

As Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar dumped BJP this August, RJD got a chance to be back in the government. As Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and RJD joined hands to form the new government, AIMIM was left with only MLA in its state president Akhtarul Iman. In this by-election, Nitish Kumar did not campaign for the RJD’s candidate citing health reasons but AIMIM was seemingly determined to damage the RJD as it was clear that their candidate Abdul Salam was not going to win.

It is evident that the allegation of being the B team of BJP will not deter AIMIM from fighting the election and RJD will also not get any benefit from this allegation. RJD and for that matter, JD (U) are left with only two options. They must accept AIMIM as their potential challenge in the coming elections and field a proper candidate. The second option seems not fit for them but it is discussed that they can ally with them. As the second option is almost out of question, they must think out of the box to outfox AIMIM to prevent BJP from gaining ground in Bihar. To think that they can take the Muslim voters for granted would be a political blunder by the secular parties as they cannot afford to field all and sundry as their candidates.

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