The first visit of Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), to Kishanganj has rattled the secular combine in the Seemanchal region.
Seemanchal — comprising four districts of Araria, Katihar, Purnia and Kishanganj — has a population of 1 crore of which 40% are Muslims, with Kishanganj having 69% Muslim population.
Thus, it was Kishanganj, which Owaisi targeted for maximum effect and it is here that his party is aiming to fight all seats over four assembly segments, besides two each in Purnia and Araria and one in Katihar, where Muslim population dominates.
With the huge audience Owaisi enjoyed, there is now concern even among the tallest Muslim leaders in the region that any polarisation on communal lines will help the NDA sail through.
Owaisi, in his first ever public meeting in Bihar, had made scathing attacks on Nitish-Lalu combine and said “They create panic in the name of the BJP among people during polls just to cheat them.”
“Owaisi should be banned from holding any public meeting in Bihar” a senior JD-U leader of Kishanganj said, admitting, “His entry in Bihar politics will affect secular leaders and the electorate, giving a clear edge to such parties which base their politics on caste and religion.”
Seemanchal heavyweight and Araria MP Md Taslimuddin, however, said “Owaisi cannot impress the Muslims.”
His close aides, on the other hand, admitted, “He has created some panic, more so among political leaders opposed to the NDA.”
Prof Buland Akhtar Hashmi, a senior JD-U leader, did not rule out the possibility of the voters getting split. “Owaisi’s visit cannot be dismissed off hand, whatever chief minister Nitish Kumar may say, for he does attract people,” Hashmi said.
Md Akhtarul Imam, who skipped the RJD to JD-U and the man behind Owaisi’s first public meeting in Bihar said, “The people of Seemanchal are fed up with Nitish-Lalu regimes and desperately wish for ‘proactive politics’. Owaisi suits the situation,” Imam said.
The NDA leaders would wish the Owaisi effect to spread, for this is one region, where it has always found the going tough. “The more he splits the votes, easier it would be for NDA constituents to take on the main opposition of the Grand Alliance,” said a BJP MP, not wishing to be named.