In a jolt to Owaisi, 4 AIMIM MLAs join RJD in Bihar

With 80 legislators, RJD becomes the single largest party in Assembly

June 30, 2022 06:00 am | Updated 06:00 am IST - Patna / Raipur

At a time when Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party lost Rampur and Azamgarh seats in the bypolls in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh indicating the party’s loosening grip over minority votes, four of the five MLAs of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) on Wednesday joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar. With 80 legislators, the RJD has now become the single largest party in the 243-member Assembly, leaving behind the BJP at number two with 77 MLAs.

However, hours before the AIMIM MLAs joined the RJD in Bihar, Mr. Owaisi, while addressing a public rally in support of his party candidate in Bhopal for the civic polls, took a dig at former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for “failing to keep his party’s flock together in the State”.

The four AIMIM MLAs who joined the RJD in the presence of Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav are: Mohd. Shahnawaj Alam  (Jokihat), Mohd. Anzar Nayeemi (Bahadurpur), Mohd. Izhar Asfi (Kochadhaman) and Syed Ruknuddin Ahmad (Baisi). Now, only State AIMIM president Akhtarul Iman has remained with the party. In the 2020 Assembly elections, the AIMIM had contested 24 seats in Bihar and won five seats — two seats each in Kishanganj and Purnia districts and one in Araria district.

In March 2022, three out of four Vikashil Insaan Party (VIP) MLAs joined the BJP, taking its total number of legislators from 74 to 77 and made it the single largest party in the Assembly. In the 2020 Assembly polls, the RJD got 75 seats. Later it won the Bochaha bypoll, taking its total to 76.

Slams SP

Significantly, reacting to the defeat of the SP in the recent Rampur and Azamgarh bypolls, Mr. Owaisi had termed the Samajwadi Party “useless”. He had tweeted, “the results of Rampur and Azamgarh elections clearly show that the Samajwadi Party has neither the ability nor the capability to defeat the BJP. Muslims should now, instead of wasting their valuable votes on such useless parties, should create their own independent political identity and decide their fate themselves”.

Earlier, hours before the Bihar setback, Mr. Owaisi, while referring to the mass resignations of Congress MLAs that toppled the Kamal Nath government and paved the way for the return of the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Chief Minister, said those who had switched their loyalty had cheated people of Madhya Pradesh and Mr. Nath’s leadership had failed to prevent them. “People from your [Mr. Nath’s] party sold their conscience and switched over… 20 of your MLAs went and then [Jyotiraditya] Scindia joined the BJP and became a Minister. Mr. Nath should answer that who was responsible for all this?”, asked Mr. Owaisi.

Leader of the Opposition and RJD leader Mr. Tejashwi Yadav accompanied four AIMIM MLAs to the Speaker who submitted their letter of support to the RJD. Later, Mr. Yadav took the MLAs to the 10, Circular Road residence of his mother Rabri Devi and made a formal announcement of the AIMIM MLAs joining the RJD. “Out of the five AIMIM MLAs in Bihar, four have joined the RJD today. We welcome them in our party and now we are the largest party in the Assembly”, Mr. Yadav said.

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