Patna: Putting speculations to rest, All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi announced his decision to contest Bihar Assembly Elections 2015 giving a fresh twist to the keenly contested elections. Owaisi will contest 25 assembly seats in the Seemanchal region of Bihar which has significant Muslim population.
AIMIM chief had addressed a rally organised by the Samaji Insaaf Front at Ruidhansa ground in Kishanganj on August 16 and successfully drew crowd. Owaisi’s target was clear. He challenged Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and held Lalu Prasad Yadav, Congress and Nitish Kumar equally responsible for the backwardness of Bihar.
Why Owaisi chose Seemanchal?
Seemanchal is one of the most backward region of India with a sizable Muslim population. The five districts – Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria, Katihar and Supaul – in the Seemanchal region share border with Nepal, Bangladesh or West Bengal. While Kishanganj has 70% Muslim population, Araria, Purnia and Kathiar have about 40% Muslims each. Supaul constituency has 17% Muslim population. Owaisi is banking on the Muslim votes in the region to open his account in Bihar.
Why Owaisi’s entry is good news for BJP?
Despite the significant Muslim population, BJP has been winning most of the Seemanchal seats, except Kishanganj, due to sharp division of Muslims and a split of anti-BJP votes. In the last Assembly polls, of the 23 assembly seats that fall in the region, BJP won 13 including Muslim-dominated Araria, Purnea, Katihar and Bhagalpur constituency. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) won 4 seats followed by Congress and LJP that won 2 seats each. The story doesn’t end here.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP registered remarkable success in Bihar winning 32 out of 40 seats. However, in the Seemanchal region, the BJP lost all four seats. In the 2009 general election, BJP won three out of the four seats in Seemanchal. What did not work for the BJP? The fear of Narendra Modi in Muslim community played vital role in BJP’s loss in Seemanchal. Secondly, it was no longer allied with the JD(U) and lost the support of upper caste.
With JD(U), RJD and Congress coming together, BJP have real challenge. But the entry of Owaisi in the political fray has given a boost to the chances of saffron party in Seemanchal.
Owaisi could be the factor of dividing Muslim and anti-BJP votes in Seemanchal. Moreover, Owaisi with his provocative speeches will consolidate Hindu votes. No doubt, BJP is extremely happy with the increasing popularity of Owaisi as it is a win win situation for the saffron party. The grand alliance have real threat in the form of Owaisi.