PATNA / HYDERABAD: The anti-BJP ‘Grand Alliance’ in Bihar has one more thing to worry about for the coming Assembly polls. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by Asaduddin Owaisi, announced on Saturday that it would contest the elections in the Seemanchal region of the state, leading to speculation that the bid could split the minority vote which forms a critical part of the support base for the parties of the ‘Grand Alliance’.
“MIM will put up candidates in Bihar’s Seemanchal region, which is not only backward but also has a lot of problems. There has to be over all development,” Mr Owaisi said at press conference in Hyderabad.
This could turn out to be a spoiler for the anti-BJP ‘Grand Alliance’, comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress, for whom the Muslim vote forms a critical part of their support base. Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), for instance, rode to power thrice on the consolidation of what was referred to as the ‘M-Y Factor’.
Sources in the AIMIM claim their party could poll around 15 to 20 per cent of the Muslim vote in Seemanchal. Another possible breaker of the Muslim vote could be Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, which broke away from the ‘Grand Alliance’, unhappy with the five seats it had been given.
The JD(U) has attacked the AIMIM and accused it working to favour of the BJP. “All agents of the BJP stand exposed. This is nothing but a ploy by a desperate party. We are not concerned,” said JD(U) spokesperson Ajay Alok.
The Seemanchal region features a strong presence of Muslims, with the community making up 70 percent of the population in Kishanganj district, and about 40 percent in Araria, Purnea and Katihar districts. The region has 23 seats in the Assembly, and which goes up for votes on October 12.
While Kishanganj is a traditional Congress stronghold, the BJP and the JD(U) that fought the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the 2010 assembly polls together had shaved off a major share of the seats.
But when in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls the BJP and JD(U) went their separate ways, the BJP could not even win one seat, losing all three it had won in 2009.