The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Chief, Asaduddin Owaisi, has been upbeat since winning five seats in the Bihar State Assembly Elections in 2020 and has already geared up for the Bengal elections. As of now, AIMIM has announced candidates on seven seats in West Bengal, including Ithar, Jalangi, Sagardighi, Bharatpur, Malatipur, Ratua and Asansol Uttar.
But questions have already started floating about what effect will Owaisi’s performance in Bengal have on the UP politics? Will the results of Bengal elections decide the direction and condition of Muslim politics in the UP?
In fact, as soon as people start talking about Muslim politics in the UP, the name of Asaduddin Owaisi automatically props up. The way in which Owaisi has been emboldened since the victory in the Bihar elections and if his party gets some seats in the Bengal elections as well, then in that case he can say emphatically that his party is being successful at national level in giving representation to the Muslim society. At the same time, his claims to mobilise Muslim society under his flag in the UP will also become stronger.
‘Owaisi’s craze in youth’
There is no doubt that Asaduddin Owaisi’s party AIMIM can be a big factor in the 2022 UP State Assembly elections. Professor Suleman, the President of the Indian National League, says, “The crowd gathering in Owaisi’s meetings is not being seen in any leader’s public meeting or Majlis at the moment. His speeches are being heard a lot on social media. His popularity is definitely increasing, especially in the youth.”
As per Prof Suleman, the attraction in youth towards Owaisi is because he has spoken on every issue in a straightforward manner. “He has kept his honest opinion in front of the people and no political leader has shown this kind of attitude. Whether it is Akhilesh Yadav or anyone else, everyone has started weighing political profit and loss. One can see a change in the voting pattern of Muslim society after listening to Owaisi’s arguments. Muslim voters have always been accused of voting on behalf of the candidate who defeated the BJP. Changes in this negative voting pattern have started. The Muslim voter will now vote not to defeat the BJP, but to make his candidate a winner,” said Prof Suleman.
will AIMIM make a dent in the Muslim vote bank?
Shakeel Samdani, a professor at Aligarh Muslim University, says that it is quite possible that Owaisi’s party may make a dent in Muslim vote bank. “Parties that talk about Muslim interests have skipped in giving a stake to this community. The Samajwadi Party has been talking about Muslim interests but, with this votebank, only the palaces of SP have been built. When the SP left Azam Khan in the middle, what did anyone else do? In UP, Owaisi can win many seats and may spoil the political equation on many seats,” said Prof Samdani.
The other side of the picture
However, not all those who lead Muslims think in a similar manner. Maruf Ansari of Pasmanda society, who works for backward Muslims, claims that Owaisi is a clone of Jinnah. “Such leaders only think about the people of the upper classes and are engaged in their upliftment. There is no place in their hearts for backward Muslims,” he said. On Akhilesh Yadav’s allegations of leaving Azam Khan alone, Maroof says that this is a matter of judicial process. If Lalu Yadav is lodged in jail, is Tejashwi Yadav agitating on the road for this? This does not happen like this.
Owaisi trying to bring small parties together in UP
Overall, it can be said that Owaisi cannot be seen taking lightly the upcoming Assembly elections of UP. He knows that it is an opportunity to make inroads in the State where Muslim voters constitute around 18% of the population. Although the political equation can be spoiled by this dent, a game changing victory cannot be achieved. This can be one of the reasons why Owaisi is trying to bring small parties with him to win.