Reaping ‘bloody harvest’ of the 2002 Gujarat riots and building political bases all over the country by invoking the plight of Muslim victims, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi in a curios decision avoided to challenge the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in its stronghold Gujarat.
The decision, in total contradiction to his declared stand that he will contest elections everywhere in India except Kerala and Assam, has not only left his supporters unhappy but, according to political analysts, has also given credence to the allegations that the Hyderabad MP has, at some or the other level, understanding with the BJP, and is contesting elections merely to divide anti-BJP votes.
“There is no doubt that Asaduddin Owaisi’s decision to refrain from contesting the civic elections in Gujarat has a damaging effect on his claim that he is contesting elections in different parts of the country to develop political leadership of Muslims”, Asrar Ahmed, a political analyst, said while talking to ummid.com.
The elections to 323 local self-government bodies in Gujarat will be held on November 22 and 29 with Anandiben Patel, the state’s first woman chief minister, in office for close to two years. The election, a major popularity test for Anandiben Patel, will be the first after Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in the 2014 General Elections.
According to State Election Commissioner Varesh Sinha, polling will be held first on November 22 for the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar, all of which are controlled by the BJP, and have 9.49 million eligible voters. The votes will be counted on November 26.
Asrar said contesting the Gujarat civic polls was a chance for Asaduddin Owaisi to clear the garbage of the Bihar elections where he was accused of fielding the AIMIM candidates to polarize votes and damage the chances of non-BJP candidates.
“Looking at not-so-sound condition of the opposition parties in Gujarat, Asaduddin Owaisi has missed a chance to directly challenge the BJP, and hence save his anti-communal party and anti-RSS anti BJP image which is certainly on the downslide after the Bihar polls”, he said.
Interestingly, the statistics and ground situation in some of the local bodies especially Ahmedabad and Bharuch are clearly favourable for Asaduddin Owaisi to contest elections. According to records, the 192-member Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation currently has 38 councilors of the Congress party. Out of them 24 are Muslims, and the remaining had also won the elections by Muslim votes in the last elections.
“Except for the support from the Muslim community, the Congress hardly had any supporter from other communities till last few polls, especially in urban areas. People here were looking for other options and fielding candidates should have surely helped Asaduddin Owaisi”, Kalim Siddiqui, Secretary of the All India Milli Council – Ahmedabad Chapter and former General Secretary of the Ahmedabad City Congress Committee (ACCC) said.
Kalim Siddiqui, who had met Asaduddin Owaisi in New Delhi few months back with a request to contest Gujarat civic polls, said there was a strong wave in favour alternate political option, especially when Asaduddin Owaisi on more than one occasion in the recent past, declared his desire to expand his Hyderabad party in other states.
Interestingly, Akbaruddin Owaisi, Asaduddin Owaisi’s younger brother known for controversial and hate speeches, has also expressed his desire to take the ‘AIMIM Kafila’ to Gujarat. Recently, Imtiyaz Jaleel, AIMIM MLA from Aurangabad, had also said that the AIMIM has decided to set its foot in Gujarat.
“We are getting lot of invitations from Ahmedabad. I have been told that there is lot of enthusiasm for AIMIM among the youths in Ahmedabad and other cities”, Imtiyaz Jaleel said while talking to the media.
The reason for the enthusiasm among the youths in Ahmedabad and other places in Gujarat is because invoking 2002 Gujarat riot is favourite for Owaisi brothers in their election speeches. It is another matter, they chose to ‘curse’ Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav while campiaging in Bihar.
But, the party, which gained nothing by contesting the election in Bihar, except earning “spoiler”, “vote katwa” and “BJP agent” tags, is now evading questions on its decision to contest the Gujarat polls.
While the party leadership, there is none except for the two Owaisi brothers, is totally silent on this sudden turnaround, the AIMIM MLA, Imtiyaz Jaleel, said the reason for not contesting the Gujarat polls is that the party has no base in the state.
“From the defeat in Bihar we have learnt that it is suicidal to contest elections without having cadres and strong local base on the ground”, he said while talking to ummid.com.
He, however, decided not to comment when asked why the AIMIM contested the election in Bihar where the party had the needed base or past track record of any kind of political or social engagement.
Meanwhile, thanks to the ‘revolt’ by the Patel community against the BJP government, the 2015 local bodies election in Gujarat has turned out to be an easy and favourable game for the Congress party, which till now was totally demoralised and was wiped out from many places in the state.
But, fresh from tasting victory in Bihar, the Gujarat Congress gears up for a ‘landslide’ in the state’s civic elections too.