With the arrival of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), Bihar’s Seemanchal region is hogging the limelight on the eve of Assembly elections.
The Hyderabad-based party drew a massive crowd at its first rally in Kishanganj on August 16. Owaisi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and slammed secular alliance leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar for ignoring Seemanchal, the most backward region of the state.
The area has a high concentration of Muslims—30-70 per cent of the region’s population. Voter’s mobilisation on communal lines may affect the poll outcome of this region.
BJP performed very well in the 2010 Assembly polls, winning 13 seats out of 15 seats it contested. It is facing a challenge to retain these seats and to improve its tally this time.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the major chunk of Muslim votes (64 per cent) went to Lalu’s RJD and its allies. After the formation of a secular front comprising RJD, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Congress, the situation is likely to change. “We are contesting not only to take on communal forces but opportunist alliance parties who have taken voters of this region for granted,” said state chief of AIMIM Akhtarul Iman.
“We are a key factor in 24 Assembly constituencies where we are fielding candidates,” Iman told The Sunday Standard. “Seemanchal is on the lowest point compared to other parts of the states on almost all development parameters. In Kishanganj, over 70 per cent of the population is Below Poverty Line. Our key demand is granting a Seemanchal Development Council under Article 371.” He also accused secular parties for spreading rumours that AIMIM has a tactical understanding with BJP.
JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said, “BJP has given a task to Owaisi to harm the prospects of the grand alliance in the Bihar Assembly polls.”