Hyderabad: The All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is likely to contest only about five to eight seats in the ongoing West Bengal (WB) elections. Led by Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM’s poll prospects hit a wall when Abbas Siddiqui, influential cleric and head of the Furfura Sharif dargah in the state, chose the Left-Congress alliance instead of Owaisi. His decision disrupted Owaisi’s entire gameplan.
A senior AIMIM leader, on condition of anonymity, said that the party will contest seats mostly in Murshidabad district, in constituencies where the Muslim vote share is about 80%. He informed that the party had initially planned to contest about 25 seats each in partnership with Abbas Siddiqui, who floated the Indian Secular Front (ISF) just before the polls.
“The aim was to wean away Muslim votes in seats where the community’s votes share stands at about 40% or more, so that the (incumbent) Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left-Congress would split the remainder of the votes,” the AIMIM leader told siasat.com. In the run up to the WB polls, the AIMIM was all charged up after Owaisi announced his decision to contest the West Bengal elections few months ago.
The Hyderabad-headquartered party had won five seats in the Bihar state polls last year. However, the main difference then and now was that the AIMIM could rope in rebels from major political parties, who could steer the ship. Moreover, it was hit by internal resignations, which also further upset its chances. In a major setback to the AMIM, ahead of the polls in March, the party’s state in-charge Zamirul Hasan had resigned, alleging that Owaisi came to West Bengal with the intention of working for the BJP.
“He (Abbas Siddiqui) however does not seem to have clear political foresight. He has been given some 24 seats, of which many have only about 20% of Muslim voters. Moreover, his alliance is only with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), as the Congress was not keen to have him,” the AIMIM leader told saisat.com. He further stated that in West Bengal, 90% of Muslims are also likely to support TMC supremo and incumbent chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
“After seeing the local situation, we decided to look the other way. Maximum Muslim voters have already decided to save Mamata Banerjee’s government,” the AIMIM leader stated. In the 2016 West Bengal elections, TMC managed to win 211 seats, while the BJP, which is staking claim to form the next government, won just three seats. The CPM bagged 26 assembly constituencies, while the Congress 44 seats (both had an alliance).
The BJP, which was a no-show then, sprung a surprise and managed to win 18 out of the 42 Parliamentary seats in the subsequent 2019 elections, while the TMC was reduced to winning just 22 seats. The Congress bagged the other two seats. “In the 2019 general elections, the BJP managed to secure 57% of the Hindu vote share, while the TMC secured the remainder of it, and also about 70% of the Muslim votes. Mamata, due to consolidation of Muslim votes now, will win the polls,” opined the AIMIM leader.
In West Bengal, where Muslims account for 30% of the state’s population, it is believed that about 100 seats where Muslim votes can play a decisive role, while there are 57 seats where the community has over 40% of vote share itself.
Political consultant Sumit Anand, who worked in Hyderabad during the 2019 general elections, and in other subsequent polls across India, said that things would have been a lot different for AIMIM had Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF not joined the Congress-Left alliance. “But it can still garner a respectable share of votes in the seats it is contesting, particularly in Malda which has a sizeable Surjapuri community, which forms the largest support base for it Bihar’s Seemanchal. AIMIM will see these elections to make inroads and expand their base in the state,” he added.