Owaisi’s party eyes national status, to contest from 2 Tamil Nadu seats

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2016 01:33 IST
After the Bihar polls, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi decided to expand his party's base outside Hyderabad in a strategic manner. (PTI)

After Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar, the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is now trying to make its presence felt in the upcoming Tamil Nadu assembly elections.

Political analysts say IMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is keen on expanding the party’s base across the country, in keeping with his plan to eventually ensure that it receives national status.

Though the party had initially planned to contest from six seats, it finally zeroed in on Vaniyambadi in Vellore district and Krishnagiri in Krishnagiri district after conducting a thorough assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. Both the constituencies have a sizeable Urdu-speaking Tamil Muslim population.

After the Bihar polls, Owaisi decided to expand his party's base outside Hyderabad in a strategic manner. His next target is Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls next year.

Read: I am a loyal Indian, don’t need certificate from anyone: Owaisi

In Tamil Nadu, Muslims constitute about 6% of the total voter population. Several parties — including the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (floated by the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam in 2009), the Indian Thowheed Jamath, the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath, the Indian Union Muslim League and the Indian National League — are already vying with each other to win the community’s support.

It remains to be seen if the AIMIM, which is now fighting the elections under the Muslim-Dalit unity slogan, will eat into the votes of other Muslim parties or come a cropper — as was the case in last year’s Bihar polls.

Considered a Hyderabad-based party in the past, the AIMIM has been open about its expansion plans. After his party won two seats in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections, Owaisi tried his luck in the Bihar polls. However, his party was rejected by voters in favour of the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance in the state.

The AIMIM failed to register a win even in the Bengaluru civic polls. Owaisi, however, insists that his main target is the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections — in which the AIMIM will field candidates in seats dominated by Muslims and Dalits.

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