AIMIM’s Foray in Bihar Continues to Face Challenges

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Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

PATNA— All India Muslim Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which is often accused of dividing Muslim votes, is not facing such accusations this time in Bihar given the party making its space and winning five seats in Seemanchal region.

In the Lok Sabha election, AIMIM has decided to field its candidates on 15 seats. Initially, Akhtarul Iman, state president of the party, had announced that they would contest election on 11 seats. They include Kishanganj, Purnea, Katihar, Araria (All four in Seemanchal), Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Karakat, Buxar, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Ujiyarpur. Later, he increased the numbers to 15 seats. The four additional seats are Patliputra, Samastipur, Sitamarhi, and Valmikinagar. The party also might contest from Madhubani.

However, the party is yet to announce its candidates on all these seats except for Kishanganj. This makes difficult to draw any conclusion regarding its fate in the present elections.

Tanzil Asif, a journalist who runs news outlet in Seemanchal region, told Clarion India that the party has announced only its candidate in Kishanganj where Iman himself is candidate from his party. However, Congress is yet to announce its candidate from the constituency while JD(U) fielded Mohammed Muzahid .

 Kishanganj is Muslim-dominated constituency where the minority population account for around 70 percent. In past, prominent Muslim figures had fought Lok Sabha elections from it. Currently, Dr. Mohammed Javed from the Congress is MP. In 2019, it was the only constituency where BJP was defeated while winning all 39 seats in the state.

Asif said that there could be triangular fight in this constituency this time as AIMIM has no more considered as “vote cutter” there.

“After 2019 and 2020 results, AIMIM is no longer considered a vote cutter in Kishanganj Lok Sabha constituency, That’s why this this triangular will get closer in Kishanganj,” he said.

However, he also pointed out that the party has not ground outside Kishanganj in Bihar.

“Right now, AIMIM is in triangular contest (like 2019), in Kishanganj only, in rest of the seats, it depends on candidates only. AIMIM doesn’t have its own ground outside Kishanganj Loksabha constituency. Kishanganj LS has total 6 assembly constituencies, AIMIM won 4 of these in 2020, but three of these MLAs shifted to RJD. So right now RJD-Congress has five MLAs here, AIMIM has one.  They were close third in 2019 Loksabha,” said Asif.

There is also assumptions that Adil Hussain, national spokesperson of the party, will contest from Katihar. Hussain is from Katihar’s Balrampur.

On the other hand, the party continues to grapple with the allegations of diving votes. In response, Iman said that they had approached the INDIA alliance to include them in the block but they refused.

Earlier while talking to Times of India, Iman said “We have decided to field candidates from these seats out of political compulsions. We had tried hard to be a part of the INDIA bloc, but they didn’t show any interest in us”.

“They have been getting the votes of Muslims by repeatedly raising the fears of BJP, but have been reluctant to give Muslims their due share,” Iman said, adding, “We have taken this step out of sheer frustration.”

Mohammed Reyaz, a faculty at Aliah University and former Journalist, also doesn’t see ground of accusing AIMIM of dividing votes because the parties which is part of INDIA alliance are also contesting elections separately. For example, TMC, which is part of INDIA alliance, is contesting the elections separately in West Bengal. It will divide the secular votes.

He pointed out that in a multi-party system, you cannot ask any party not to contest elections. AIMIM has right to contest election especially in the region they have been working for years.  

“Their contest in Bihar is not surprising as they have been working in the state for years. They have launched a serious foray in Bihar among the northern states. They got a set of strong leaders which caused victory on some seats in the state. It is also not surprising that they want to expand in the state,” said Riyaz while talking to Clarion India.

However, the issue arises when AIMIM airdrop candidates in the states like West Bengal and Gujarat where they have not ground work. The party fails, he said.

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