Bihar polls: Not here to become ‘vote katua’, asserts Owaisi

Patna: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has blamed the RJD for the rise of the BJP in Bihar, and dismissed suggestions that his party was in the election arena in the state to split secular votes and help the saffron party.

Owaisi hit out at Congress

He also hit out at the Congress, an ally of the RJD, castigating it for contesting the Maharashtra assembly elections together with his All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul- Muslimeen (AIMIM) but later joining hands with the Shiv Sena, “the demolishers of the Babri mosque”, and forming a coalition government in the western state.

“Congress shall not teach us secularism,” the Hyderabad MP told PTI-Bhasha in an interview here.

Owaisi left Patna on Sunday after spending two days in Bihar strategising with ally Samajwadi Janata dal (SJD) of former union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav.

Vote Katua

The AIMIM leader wondered why some in the RJD were calling him “vote katua” (a vote splitter) who has jumped into the election arena to help the BJP.

“How was my party responsible for the RJD’s complete rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in a state the party calls its ‘garh’ (fort)?” he asked.

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“What happened to these so-called ‘thekedar’ (contractors) of anti-BJP votes in the 2019 general elections?” he asked, while scoffing at the RJD-Congress alliance that claims to be pro-minority and secular.

“I fail to understand on what basis they claim sole ownership of Muslim votes in Bihar,” he said.

The grand alliance led by the RJD and comprising the Congress and some smaller parties was drubbed in the last Lok Sabha election with just the Congress managing to open its account by clinching the Kishanganj seat on Bihar-West Bengal border which has substantial presence of Muslim voters.

It was for the first time since its launch that the RJD had drawn a blank.

Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.

The RJD-helmed Mahagathbandhan has suffered a string of setback ahead of the assembly polls, with the Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi walking out of the alliance and returning to the NDA fold. The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party also walked out and together with Mayawati’s BSP and Janatantrik Party (Socialist) formed a 3- party front.

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Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni, who wields some influence on fellow ‘Mallah’ castemen in some pockets, has also deserted the grand alliance.

United Democratic Secular Alliance

Owaisi said the United Democratic Secular Alliance (USDA) that he has forged with Devendra Prasad Yadav, is also in talks with other parties and fronts.

“Devendra Yadav is holding parleys with other parties,” he said when asked if his front had approached Kushwaha’s RLSP to expand the alliance.

“People of Bihar are feeling suffocated today due to the misrule of the two major alliances and are looking for a better alternative…we will try to fulfil their hope with a strong coalition of secular forces,” the AIMIM chief said.

The AIMIM, considered a carpetbagger in Bihar until recently, won the Muslim-dominated Kishanganj assembly seat in a byelection earlier this year. It now looks forward to increasing its footprint in Bihar where Muslims have largely voted for Lalu Prasad’s RJD for many years.

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