All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi on Sunday sought to introduce a ‘special’ dimension to the coming Bihar assembly polls.
The Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad demanded a ‘special package’ under Article 371 of the Constitution for Seemanchal, an unofficial reference to four north-eastern districts of Bihar which form the Muslim hub of the state.
Addressing a gathering at Ruidhansha ground in Kishanganj, Owaisi said such a package had become necessary as “no government, either in Bihar or at the Centre, has taken any step to uplift the condition of the people of the region”.
Seemanchal refers collectively to four Bihar districts bordering West Bengal and close to the Bangladesh border, which have a Muslim population ranging from 30-40% in Araria, Katihar and Purnia to about 70% in Kishanganj.
In late 2014, the AIMIM website had indicated Owaisi’s plan to debut in the Bihar assembly polls by concentrating on Seemanchal.
Owaisi’s foray is widely seen as bad news for the Lalu-Nitish-Congress grand alliance since a candidate fielded by him is expected to cut into the Muslim vote which is otherwise expected to go to the anti-BJP alliance.
It is also believed that Owaisi’s presence will polarize voters on communal lines.
Owaisi made his intent clear by describing Lalu and Nitish as “opportunists” who could not be counted upon to work for the larger benefit of Muslims or Seemanchal.
The AIMIM chief also met a number of Muslim leaders and criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for doing little to fulfil the expectations of the people.