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AIMIM votes for Shiv Sena-led MVA coalition in Maharashtra Rajya Sabha polls, says intent was to defeat BJP 

AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi

AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

Whilst claiming to keeping its distance from the ruling Shiv Sena, the two Maharashtra MLAs of the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) nonetheless voted for the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition (of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress) in the Rajya Sabha polls on Friday.

The AIMIM, which has often been accused by the MVA leadership - particularly the Shiv Sena - of being the BJP’s ‘b-team’, said it voted for the Congress’ candidate in order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Before the polling, Imtiaz Jaleel, the AIMIM’s lone MP in Maharashtra (from Aurangabad) said that while his party’s “political and ideological differences with the Sena” would remain, the party’s MLAs would cast their votes for the Congress (MVA) candidate Imran Pratapgarhi.

Despite the AIMIM’s justification of going with the MVA to keep the BJP at bay, their decision raised eyebrows as the two AIMIM votes constituted ‘excess’ Congress votes (42 being the quota, Congress having 44 MLAs), which, by agreement between the three MVA parties, ultimately went into the Shiv Sena’s kitty.

Earlier in March this year, the ruling Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had categorically refused the AIMIM’s offer to be part of the MVA coalition in order to form a broad anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the Sena alleging that the Owaisi-led party’s offer was part of a BJP ploy to discredit the Sena’s ‘Hindutva’ credentials.  

“To defeat BJP, our party has decided to vote for Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the Rajya Sabha elections in Maharashtra. Our political/ideological differences however will continue with @ShivSena, which is a partner in MVA along with the Congress and the NCP,” Mr. Jaleel had tweeted, while announcing his party’s stance.

He further said: “Our two AIMIM Maharashtra MLAs have been asked to vote for the Congress candidate Imran Pratapgarhi for the Rajya Sabha seat. We extend our best wishes to him!”

The AIMIM’s move to support Mr. Pratapgarhi – a Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh – is in keeping with the party’s decision to expand in UP where the AIMIM had played a notable spoilsport in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election earlier this year.  

Following a meeting of the Sena leadership and office bearers in Mumbai’s Sena Bhavan today ahead of the party’s proposed voter outreach drive, Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had categorically refused to let the party have any truck with the Hyderabad-based party.  

On Thursday, Mr. Jaleel was invited to attend a meeting of NCP leaders in Mumbai where he raised issues of ‘discrimination’ in the allocation of development funds to the two AIMIM legislators - Shah Faruk Anwar (from Dhule City) and Mohammad Ismail Abdul Khalique (from Malegaon Central).

The AIMIM leader later said they had decided to vote for the MVA candidate despite not having received concrete assurances of their demands, while remarking that Uddhav Thackeray was also his Chief Minister as well as that of the State’s.

“We laid certain conditions related to allocation of development funds for our MLAs in Dhule and Malegaon. We pointed out that despite several government offices sited on Waqf board lands, there were not giving rent,” Mr. Jaleel said on Thursday.

He said that the AIMIM had demanded that the MVA government make it compulsory for government offices in lands owned by the Waqf board to pay rent as per ready reckoner rates and appoint a minority member on the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC).

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2022 12:53:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-aimim-mlas-to-vote-for-congress-candidate-in-rajya-sabha-polls/article65513351.ece