Battered in last year’s Bihar polls, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi is considering a pre-poll tie-up with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for next year’s assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
“Our party’s UP unit is dealing with the matter. It is early days yet and nothing has been decided so far,” Owaisi told HT.
The AIMIM leader’s “go-it-alone misadventure” in Bihar had bombed last October with his party candidates losing security deposits in all seats they contested in the Muslim-dominated “Seemanchal” or bordering districts of the eastern state.
In a hurry to fill up the political space left vacant by the decimation of the Congress in the 2014 general elections, the AIMIM’s UP unit had last year indicated that it will contest around 100 of the 403 assembly seats in UP.
Not only has the Hyderabad-based party scaled down its numbers for UP, but is also willing to play a junior partner to any secular formation in order to prevent Muslim/Dalit votes from getting splintered.
Sources said the AIMIM is in the process of identifying “winnable Muslim and Dalit” seats. Despite opposition by local Muslims, the party had fielded a Dalit candidate, Pradeep Kori, from Bikapur assembly seat in the by-election early this year. Kori stood fourth with 11,857 votes.
Owaisi has ruled out an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP), Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (United), but has been silent on the BSP. However, it is unlikely that Mayawati will be interested in having any formal/informal alliance with the AIMIM in the pre-poll scenario. She has already shown her disinclination to a tie-up with the Congress.
UP’s Muslim space has been getting increasingly crowded, with most political parties including the SP, Congress, JD(U) and the BSP considering plans to field a large number of minority candidates in order to bring about a Dalit/Muslim polarisation against the BJP. Mayawati’s party plans to field approximately 125 Muslim candidates.
Accounting for 18-19% of the state’s population, Muslims could influence the poll outcome in about 100 seats.
As part of its Muslim-outreach plan, the SP has been negotiating a tie-up with the Quami Ekta Dal – an outfit headed by controversial leader Mukhtar Ansari. As an anti-SP front, nine Muslim outfits recently came together under one platform under the leadership of the Peace Party’s Mohammed Ayub.
At this stage, Owaisi’s choices seem extremely restricted though he has maintained that his party is open for an alliance to fight the upcoming polls. Much depends now on Mayawati’s political and electoral calculations.
Owaisi is, however, buoyed by the public response to his two recent public meetings in Uttar Pradesh.