Muslim-Led Parties, Once Political Untouchables, Form Alliances in Bihar Polls

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AIMIM, which has been portrayed by secular parties as a party which cuts into secular votes, is happy with the new alliance calling it a ‘breakthrough’ for the party

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Even as the three-phase assembly elections in Bihar are scheduled to start from October 28, Muslim-led political parties like the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), have been snubbed by the secular parties by terming them as the agents of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

However, they have succeeded in forming alliances with some secular parties.

On Thursday, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, along with other four secular parties, including Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Devendra Prasad Yadav’s Samajwadi Dal Democratic Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) formed an alliance called ‘Grand Democratic Secular Front’ (GDSF) for the crucial polls. Kushwaha, a former Union Minister, is the chief ministerial face of the alliance and Yadav is the chief of the alliance.

AIMIM, which has been portrayed by secular parties as a party which cut into secular votes, is happy with the new alliance calling it a ‘breakthrough’ for the party.

“This is the first time we are forming alliance with the major parties. Earlier, they did not like to talk to us. We have approached everybody for the alliance, including Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress. But we were considered untouchable. This has happened with us in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, too,” said MIM Bihar’s general secretary Engineer Aftab talking to Clarion India.

He added that his party made many efforts to form an alliance with the RJD on some seats and even talked to the Muslim organizations like Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to make an arrangement for the alliance with the RJD but it did not bear fruit.

He said the behavior of the mainstream parties had changed this time because the party had grown its influence in the Seemanchal areas from where MIM contested the last assembly and Lok Sabha polls but failed to secure any seat.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, AIMIM candidate Akhtarul Iman secured 3 lakh votes from Kishanganj which, he says, was a good performance for the party. And then, AIMIM candidate Qamrul Hoda won from the Kishanganj constituency in the 2019 assembly by-elections.

Aftab said his party would not contest on many seats in these elections. The distribution of the seats will be decided later. But his party will remain in the Seemanchal, which is a Muslim-dominated region. He said that their core agenda would be the development of the Seemanchal which, according to him, had been rendered backward by the RJD, the Congress and the JD (U). He slammed those parties who termed it as ‘vote cutter’.

Addressing a press conference to announce the alliance, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said: “15 years of Nitish Kumar and the BJP, and 15 years of RJD-Congress didn’t benefit Bihar’s poor. State is lagging behind on social-economic-education integrators. An alliance has been formed for Bihar’s future, and we’ll make all efforts to be successful”.

Another alliance which has been formed by the Muslim-led parties along with secular parties in the Bihar elections is People Democratic Alliance (PDA) led by Jan Adhikar Party’s Pappu Yadav. The alliance comprises Muslim and Dalit parties, including the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the Indian Union Muslim League and Chandrasekhar Azad’s Azad Samaj Party.

SDPI leader Talseem Rahmani told Clarion India that the alliance comprises 11 parties and would contest from 243 constituencies. His party has been allotted 16 seats. The candidates will be announced on 12 October.

He said that his party had formed the alliance to bring the marginalised sections into the mainstream political space captured by the NDA and the Grand alliance. “These two alliances made the state backward and involved in corruption. People wanted to get rid of them. So, we are providing an alternative to the people.”

He also said that his party had approached the AIMIM for the alliance but there was no response but AIMIM said that they told them to talk to their chief Owaisi for the alliance but they did not meet him for the alliance.

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