All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi may finally set foot on UP turf on Monday in what could be his first move to make his presence felt in the politically crucial state ahead of the 2017 assembly elections.
Owaisi will visit the communally-sensitive Meerut district to attend an Iftar party hosted by the district unit of AIMIM on July 6. While AIMIM office bearers in the state remained tight-lipped on the engagements of their party president in Meerut, sources said that the occasion will offer the firebrand leader and Hyderabad MP an opportunity to galvanise his party cadre in UP.
Confirming the development, UP convener of AIMIM, Shauqat Ali said that Owaisi will remain in Meerut for a day before heading to Agra where he would attend another Iftar party on Tuesday. “He will also interact with the party cadre after the Iftar party,” said AIMIM’s district chief in Meerut, Hafiz-ur-Rehman. Sources said this could just be the beginning of a series of similar Iftar parties that the AIMIM may hold in other districts as well.
In Agra, Owaisi will visit the famous shrine of Abu-al-ala, the venue for AIMIM’s Iftar party. Interestingly, MIM’s district office also happens to be close to the dargah. AIMIM’s Agra chief Mohammad Idris said that Owaisi will visit the dargah following which he is expected to spend an hour with the party functionaries after the evening prayers.
Owaisi’s bid to hold a rally in Allahabad was thwarted twice by the local administration on March 29 and April 26. He was not permitted to address a public meeting in Agra on March 29 either. This had been the pattern last year as well, both before and after the general elections. Owaisi couldn’t hold public meetings on three occasions — February 1, April 25 and June 12, 2014 — in Azamgarh and, then again, on September 7 last year in Allahabad.
The ruling Samajwadi Party has been wary of Owaisi’s presence as it is likely to dent its crucial Muslim vote bank. SP sources said that the party ranks have been asked to keep a close eye on Owaisi and his meetings. UP, sources said, could be a crucial stop for Owaisi who also plans to visit West Bengal and Bihar, where elections are due soon. AIMIM had won two seats in Maharashtra, lost three by a narrow margin, and finished third in nine constituencies. Recently, the MIM won 26 seats in municipal elections in Aurangabad.
MIM sources said that the party has been building its base in Uttar Pradesh since last year after a good show in Maharashtra. “Even in Maharashtra, we could have done better if we had started sooner. We would not make that mistake in the case of UP,” said an AIMIM leader in UP.