Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has said All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi is a bigger opponent than RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav in the upcoming Bihar assembly elections.
In an exclusive interview to Hindustan, Shah denied all claims that the leader of the Hyderabad-based party is a BJP “agent” after the JD(U) and other parties had attacked the AIMIM and accused it of working in the favour of the saffron party.
Owaisi, the president of the AIMIM party, had announced in September that his party will contest the assembly elections, focusing on the state’s northeastern Seemanchal region with a sizeable Muslim population.
“All agents of the BJP stand exposed. This is nothing but a ploy by a desperate party. We are not concerned,” JD(U) spokesperson Ajay Alok had said.
The AIMIM could cut into the Muslim vote bank of the Grand Alliance comprising the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, and hand over the advantage to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance despite being a new entrant in the electoral politics of Bihar.
Analysts say the AIMIM could influence results in at least 21 Muslim-dominated constituencies of Kosi-Purnia divisions, besides another 15 in Bhagalpur-Munger divisions. Muslims who make up 17% of Bihar’s 10.50 crore population are thought to have the ability to influence the electoral outcome in about 50 of the state’s 243 assembly seats.
Sources have said the AIMIM could field candidates in nearly 30 seats in Seemanchal, which comprises Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar, Purnia and adjoining areas of Kosi region, and has a significant number of Muslim voters.
In a telephonic interview with Hindustan Times, Owaisi had claimed he decided to enter the electoral fray in Bihar following his interactions with the youth from Seemanchal region of Bihar who worked at construction sites in Hyderabad. They wanted him to “raise his voice” about their plight back home due to the indifference of successive governments.
He had also dismissed his political rivals’ allegations that the AIMIM’s decision to contest in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region comprising four districts of Purnia, Katihar, Araria and Kishanganj would split the so-called secular vote bank.
‘We will win’
Shah also sounded confident and said the NDA will win a two-third majority and form a government in Bihar saying the people in the state want it to develop at all cost and will not tolerate another “jungle raj”.
“Leaders of all our associate parties are meeting people and assuring them that the BJP-led coalition will form a government this time around,” said Shah on a campaign trail from Patna to Katihar.
He said Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has formed an alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress only because of his sheer greed of power.
“If he was even a little bit concerned about the leaders of the past, then he would not have overlooked the ideals of Rammohar Lohiya, Jaiprakash Narain and Karpuri Thakur and joined hands with the Congress. The followers of these leaders have crushed their dreams,” said Shah.
“If Nitish was concerned about issues and ideals, he would have fought it out alone and never have sided with Lalu, who was his opponent for 20 years.”
Shah emphasised that the real issue in these elections is Bihar’s development and that his party and its allies are fighting the polls to bring about progress in the state.
“People of Bihar know that the development of the state is not possible under the jungle raj of Lalu and amid the corruption of Congress. Anyone can see the graph of growth in the state’s where the BJP is in power. They will be able to see that every village has electricity 24 hours a day, water, schools and teachers. If NDA forms a government, Bihar will develop at a faster pace,” he said.