Kanpur administration cancels Owaisi meet fearing Muslim vote-split
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) was denied permission by the Kanpur administration to hold a rally at the Halim Muslim College Ground on August 28 because of worries that it may wean Muslims away from the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) ahead of next year’s polls, HT has found.
The AIMIM — a Hyderabad-based party — wanted its leader Asaduddin Owaisi to address the meeting in the Muslim-dominated locality under the Sisamau assembly constituency of SP MLA Irfan Solanki.
But in an August 26 order denying permission, additional district magistrate (ADM) Avinash Singh wrote, “Owaisi has been very sharp and critical of ruling party leaders in his speeches. His rally could split SP votes and reduce its support base in the region.”
Muslims form almost a fifth of the Uttar Pradesh population and are expected to prove decisive in at least 100 of the state’s 403 assembly seats next year. The AIMIM is fighting to gain a toehold in the state where the BJP is fighting with the SP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress.
“It clearly shows they are afraid of me,” Owaisi said in Hyderabad. The candid communique has stunned district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma, who promised to look into the order. “This is ridiculous. Who has issued this order?” he asked.
Sharma said with increasing requests for such political rallies, the local administration had started seeking police reports on the law and order situation. “The report must have been prepared by a police officer,” he said.
The AIMIM says it is not the first time it was refused permission to hold a public meeting at the Halim Muslim College.
“We had planned a meeting on August 14. But the administration had refused saying that it could not allow such a meeting on the eve of Independence Day,” says state president Shaukat Ali.
Sharma said the AIMIM was asked to choose a different location because of a property dispute over Halim College. But Owaisi rejected the explanation, saying he was preparing a list of officials who denied permission for his rallies and would be sending it to the Election Commission to seek their removal.
“What is surprising is that he (ADM) mentioned all these in writing,” the AIMIM chief pointed out. He said such letters would only expose the SP government.
Asked what he would do if he couldn’t address public meetings, Owaisi said: “What can I do? Unfortunately, they have been doing this to me for the last two and a half years. But such restrictions will not stop me from going around and meeting people,” he said.
Owaisi said his party was making all efforts to convey its message among the people in UP. “We have started campaigning in UP by going to different places, meeting people and strengthening the organisation,” he said.