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Why Owaisi’s AIMIM poses serious challenge to Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party in UP | India News


NEW DELHI: After a decent performance in the 2020 Bihar assembly elections, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has set his eyes on Uttar Pradesh (UP) that goes to polls next year. In UP, Owaisi’s main target seems to be Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP).
It was clear from what Owaisi said during his latest visit to the country’s most populous state on January 13 that AIMIM considered SP as its main rival party. Just after landing in Varanasi, he told mediapersons that during Akhilesh government’s regime (from 2012 to 2017), he was stopped 12 times from entering UP and permission for arrival was denied to him on 28 occasions.
What he said next could be music to Yogi Adityanath’s BJP government in the state. He said he was in the state after he got the permission. “Now, when I got the permission I am here,” he said.
AIMIM always faces two serious questions from its rivals – that it is a “vote-katwa” party (vote splitting party) and it is the “BJP’s agent”.
Owaisi, a Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad, replied to both these charges. On AIMIM being a “vote-katwa” party, he said its opponents wanted that the people should keep voting them like slaves and other political parties should not contest elections. When AIMIM contests any election, their motive is to win it, and not to ensure victory or defeat of anyone else, he said.
On AIMIM being “BJP’s agent”, Owaisi’s curt reply was that his party leaders should not care about such allegations. In Bihar elections, AIMIM was in Secular Democratic Front and everybody knows who benefitted out of it. His obvious reference was to the five seats which AIMIM won in the Bihar assembly elections for the first time.
In fact, Bihar has inspired Owaisi to launch AIMIM in UP in a major way. It contested 38 seats in the 2017 UP assembly elections and did not win even a single one. It garnered a mere 0.24 per cent of the vote share.
However, Owaisi has declared that AIMIM would contest on about 25 per cent of the total seats – which comes to about 100 in the 403-seat assembly.
As far as increasing the number of winning seats and vote share in the 2022 elections is concerned, AIMIM is eyeing the SP which gets most of the votes of the Muslims who constitute 19.3 per cent of the state’s population.
In the 2017 assembly elections, SP had fought on 311 seats while its then alliance partner Congress on 114 seats. While SP won 47 seats by garnering 21.9 per cent of vote share, the Congress was victorious on just seven seats and it got 6.3 per cent of the votes polled.
Similarly, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) contested on all 403 seats but it was victorious on just 19 seats. But it garnered 22.2 per cent vote share.
On the other hand, the BJP fielded its candidates on 384 seats, won 312 by garnering 39.7 per cent vote share.
Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) had contested on eight seats, won four and polled 0.7 per cent of vote share. SBSP has aligned with AIMIM for the 2022 UP assembly elections.
Owaisi wishes to replicate the Bihar experiment in UP. Instead of being a “vote-katwa” party, AIMIM is striving to carve out a constituency for itself. It has already declared its first candidate for the next assembly elections. Abdul Mannan, an eye surgeon by profession who quit the Peace Party to join AIMIM, would be fielded from Utraula assembly constituency in Balrampur district.
In Bihar, AIMIM damaged Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) the most. AIMIM split the Muslim votes which, otherwise, usually used to go to RJD.
In UP, SP is likely to suffer the most with AIMIM’s serious entry. Incidentally, both SP and RJD have the same vote banks – Muslims and Yadavs (MY). AIMIM might walk away with a sizeable chunk of Muslim votes which used to fall in SP’s kitty till the last elections.
While AIMIM would gain from this strategy, it would tangentially also benefit the BJP, as it did in Bihar, where the latter emerged as the second largest party by winning 74 seats, just one less than RJD out of total 243 seats.

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