AIMIM likely to contest over 50 seats in Bihar state polls

Hyderabad: The All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is likely to contest more than 50 seats in the upcoming Bihar state elections. The Hyderabad headquartered party, which had earlier announced that it would contest in 50 constituencies, is now likely to put up more candidates given that it has an alliance with the Bihar-based Samajwadi Janata Dal, which is led by Devender Yadav.

“We announced that our party would contest in 50 seats and our survey is going on (for the state polls). There is pressure to contest in more seats. We have units in each district in Bihar, and they want us to contest in one or two seats (in each district). We have the alliance as well. Last year, the Mahagathbandhan of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) didn’t give enough seats to Muslims,” AIMIM’s youth president Adil Hussain told siasat.com.

When asked about the number of total seats his party will contest, Hussain however said that names are being finalised, and that a press conference will be held on October 1 during which more details will be given. The development is significant given that the AIMIM is contesting a lot more seats than it did in the 2015 state polls, and that it also managed to win the Kishangunj assembly seat, which is considered to be a Congress bastion, in the 2019 by-election.

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In the Kishanganj by-poll, AIMIM’s Qamrul Hoda secured about 80,000 votes and won with a margin of more than 10,000 over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sweety Singh. More interestingly, the Congress lost its deposit, getting just 25,825 votes, indicating a shift among Muslim voters.

Importance of Seemanchal region:

The seat falls under the Seemanchal region, one of the most backward areas which has 24 seats out of the total 243 in Bihar. It is one of the focus areas of the AIMIM, and if it manages to make deeper inroads, it might change the state’s political landscape, especially for the Congress and the Lalu Prasad-led RJD, which often rely on support from Muslim voters in certain seats.

“In the the (2019) Lok Sabha elections also Muslims didn’t get enough tickets. If you won’t give tickets to muslims we will do it. This is a matter of justice. (Ex Bihar chief minister Ram Jitham) Manjhi’s community has 5.5% people and he gets only one MLA. We have been loyal (to RJD-Congress), but nothing happens from the other side. The AIMIM will also give seats to SC/STs, OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and others too,” Hussain added.

In the upcoming state polls, the AIMIM is focussing on the Seemanchal, Mithilanchal and Champaran areas of Bihar. Ever since AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha member of Parliament from the Hyderabad seat Asaduddin Owaisi announced his Bihar plans, non-BJP parties have accused him of essentially helping the BJP by “eating into secular votes”.

While that did not happen in the 2015 elections, as the AIMIM barely got a deposit, the Kishanganj by-poll however signalled a shift, albeit small. If at all the AIMIM does end up getting deposits, it wilco doubt hurt non-BJP parties, which in turn have always been accused of ignoring the needs of minorities and of only using them for votes during elections.

A political analyst and strategist from Bihar, who did not want to be quoted, said that it is unlikely that AIMIM will at this point be able to dent major parties. “I don’t think it will happen, but we have to see,” he added. Sumit Anand, another strategist who is currently working in Bihar, said that the JDU-BJP are better placed this time given that the opposition is in disarray.

RJD at disadvantage without Lalu:

In the current scenario, the RJD-Congress combination is set to take on the JDU (led by Bihar chief minister and party supremo Nitish Kumar) and BJP, which are allies. The Communist Party of India (CPI) and other smaller parties are also expected to be part of the RJD-Congress combine. Moreover, the RJD is at a major disadvantage as its chief Lalu Prasad is currently in jail after being convicted in the fodder scam case, for which he was sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Jharkhand High Court.

In the 2015 state elections, the RJD-JDU-Congress won the election and formed the government. However, Nitish Kumar jumped ship and went back to the BJP’s National Democratic Alliance in 2017.

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