AIMIM to contest ‘at least 25 to 30 seats’ in T.N.

Asaduddin Owaisi.  

After tasting success in the recently-concluded Bihar Assembly election, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), headed by Hyderabad-based politician Asaduddin Owaisi, will contest “at least 25-30 seats” in the Tamil Nadu Assembly election next year, the party’s State president, Vakeel Ahmed, said on Monday.

“I have been speaking to Mr. Duraimurugan [general secretary] of the DMK over the last two months about an alliance, but haven’t heard back from him,” Mr. Ahmed told The Hindu. Claiming that his party enjoyed widespread support among Muslim youngsters, he said it would contest seats in Krishnagiri, Vellore, Tiruchi, Madurai and Pudukottai, among other districts. “If the DMK loses, they should not blame us,” he said.

According to him, Muslims have begun to realise the need for a pan-India Muslim leadership. “When every community in India wants a political leader for themselves, why shouldn’t the Muslim community desire a national leader to represent its interests?” he asked.

Responding to the criticism that the AIMIM is helping the BJP by splitting Muslim votes and weakening the Opposition, Mr. Ahmed said, “Before 2014, we were in an alliance with the Congress. Today, BJP has given 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections. The Congress could have provided 10% reservation for Muslims when it was in power for 10 years. Did it? The Congress contested 10 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu. Did it give even a single seat to a Muslim?” he asked.

“The BJP is the enemy that we can see eye to eye. The Congress stabs us in the back,” he said. “The protests against the CAA, the NRC, the NPR and [the dilution of] Article 370 were held mainly by Muslims. The Congress did not mobilise people. It only opposed them in Parliament,” Mr. Ahmed said.

Muslim political leaders in the State dismissed concerns that ‘vote-splitters’ could be used successfully to split the Muslim vote to affect the electoral outcome for the DMK-Congress front.

With the AIADMK-BJP alliance having been cemented, some within the AIADMK have expressed fears that the party’s Muslim vote bank has left them. They are hoping that the AIMIM factor would help them.

Manithaneya Makkal Katchi president M.H. Jawahirullah said Mr. Owaisi’s strategy of placing the BJP and the Congress on the same plane would have no resonance in the State. “The Muslim political landscape in Tamil Nadu is vastly different from the one in north India. In Tamil Nadu, a number of prominent Muslim leaders have been a part of, and closely associated with, the Congress, the Justice Party, the Dravidar Kazhagam, and later with the DMK and the AIADMK. Sizeable numbers of Muslims support the DMK, the AIADMK and the Congress when they are in an alliance with Muslim parties. Therefore, the idea that the BJP and the Congress or the BJP and the DMK are one and the same will not work in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

“We have enough political parties to represent the interests of the Muslim community. There is no chance that the voters would switch to a party from outside Tamil Nadu,” he claimed.

Indian Union Muslim League’s national president K.M. Kader Mohideen said, “He [Mr. Owaisi] may get some support in Hindi-speaking States by using radical rhetoric towards Muslims, but it won’t work in Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. This kind of politics won’t be accepted by a majority of Muslims, and will die down after the election. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, there are parties that have an ideological commitment towards the welfare of Muslims. So I don’t think it [Tamil Muslims supporting Mr. Owaisi] is possible,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 1:19:07 AM |

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