Abdul Bari Masoud
Bihar assembly election is marred by the allegation of rigging and irregularities. Opposition Mahagathbandhan (MG) has accused the state election machinery of ‘tampering and rigging’ in over dozens of seats where the victory margin was low. However, the MG partner Congress party tried to make MP Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)- which has registered an impressive performance by bagging five seats and has emerged as a political force to reckon with – as a ‘fall guy’ for its flop show. And a section of Muslim community also blaming MIM for the loss of MG without going into exhaustive details of the outcome.
First, take a glance at the election results of 243-member legislative assembly. The ruling NDA scraped through by getting 124 seats while the MG grabbed 111 seats and rest seats gone to smaller parties of which five grabbed by MIM.
Of the five seats MIM won, NDA was in the second place on four. Only one seat had MG as the runner-up. Muslims in all these five seats voted tactically. They knew that MIM MLAs would ultimately caucus with MG if it falls short of a majority by a few seats. Muslims only voted for MIM on seats where it was sure to win while they cast their vote en masse to MG because of this all the Muslim candidates of JD (U) faced defeat.
It is be noted that MIM was confined to only four districts Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia and Araria of Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region in eastern part of the state which still lags behind in all social indicators despite solidly supporting the secular parties in the last 70 years.
Furthermore, only 20 candidates of MIM were in the fray while four candidate’s names were rejected at the nomination stage. Of these 3 candidates were from SCs and STs. But a wrong perception was created that Owaisi has directly or indirectly damaged the prospects of MGB as nobody talks about the spoiler role played by Pappu Yadav and Chirag Paswan in paving the way for NDA ‘victory’ which was staring a certain defeat.
Since the MIM began its election forays outside Hyderabad and Telangana, it has been branded as BJP’s ‘B team’, ‘a vote-cutter party’ and a ‘facilitator’ for BJP.
But take a quick look at the 20 seats MIM had contested which shows that not a single seat has gone to BJP or NDA due to its presence and bust the myth of MIM as a spoiler party.
The only three seats went to the BJP and one seat to its partner VIP which had ditched MG at the last moment because of not getting sufficient seats.
The defeat of Congress’ young promising leader Tauquir Alam is unfortunate who contested election from the Pranpur constituency in Katihar district. Alam lost by a narrow margin of below 3000 votes to BJP candidate Nisha Singh, MIM is not also responsible for his defeat but an an independent candidate Ishrat Parveen who secured 19746 votes and spoiled the Alam’s chances. Alam secured 77002 votes and his BJP rival 79974 while MIM candidate Hassan Mahmood Ahamad got only 508 votes.
According to journalist Saurabh Kumar Shahi ‘ of all other seats where MIM contested and lost to NDA, the margin of victory for NDA over MG is larger than the votes polled by MIM. Except for one seat where MIM polled around 7-8 votes more than the margin of victory by NDA. And on that seat, it fielded a Hindu candidate. This means even if MIM hadn’t fielded the candidates on these seats, NDA would have won”.
MGB also needs to introspect what went wrong in its failure. Why its main social base Yadav did not vote to its Muslim candidates?
Senior journalist Quamar Ashraf, who hails from Darbhanga, also defended MIM.
He told Muslim Mirror that Muslims, who had already a plethora of complaints with the ‘secular’ parties, underwent a bitter experience during their months-long protests against the citizenship matrix when they were left abandoned. No ‘secular parties’ showed reluctance to stand with them. The realisation to raise their own leadership – a sense that directly strikes chords with Asaduddin Owaisi’s narrative – was badly felt which reflected in the success of MIM on several seats.
He also highlighted the betrayal of Yadav voters to Muslim candidates.