Buoyed by the success in the Bihar assembly by-poll, where it won the prestigious Kishanganj seat by defeating arch rival BJP, and then two seats in the Maharashtra assembly polls, the AIMIM is making all-out efforts to open its account in the 19-year-old Jharkhand state.
RANCHI – A month before the All India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) got its first and historic victory in a Bihar assembly by-poll on October 24, party supremo and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi was addressing a massive crowd in neighbouring Jharkhand state. Assembled in capital Ranchi was the largest crowd in recent times to hear a Muslim politician.
Braving the rain, thousands of people heard the Hyderabad MP announcing his party would fight the assembly elections in the predominantly-tribal Jharkhand. Taking matters forward, last week, the AIMIM released its list of candidates for the first of five-phase elections for the 81-member Jharkhand assembly.
“Thank you, Ranchi, for this overwhelming response, despite the rain. The land of Jaipal Singh Munda will always be an inspiration to me. The AIMIM is a political alternative to the oppressed in Jharkhand. We’re no more going to beg for crumbs,” declared Owaisi at the Ranchi rally, his first in the state.
Always in the line of fire from his political opponents as well as a section of the Muslim community for his kind of “communal” politics, Owaisi released last Friday a list of three candidates for the Phase 1 of the assembly polls, which would be held on November 30. Four out of the 13 seats going to poll in this phase are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and three for the Scheduled Castes. Owaisi has fielded Arjun Toppo (ST) from Lohardaga, Pradeep Ganjhu (SC) from Latehar and Ashrafi Chandrawashi (OBC) from Bishrampur.
Of the 81 assembly seats in the state, 28 are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes and nine seats for the Scheduled Castes. Thursday evening, the party announced its second list of candidates – Mashkoor Siddique (Bokaro), Nadeem Khan (Hazaribagh), Iqbal Ansari (Madhupur) and Mumtaz Ansari (Sarath).
The selection of candidates shows that Owaisi, four-time Lok Sabha MP, is serious about expanding his party’s base beyond the city of Charminar, Hyderabad, and across communities and castes. Buoyed by the success in the Bihar assembly by-poll, where it won the prestigious Kishanganj seat by defeating arch rival BJP, and then two seats in the Maharashtra assembly polls, the AIMIM is making all-out efforts to open its account in the 19-year-old Jharkhand state. Since it was carved out of Bihar in November 2000, Jharkhand has so far witnessed three full-fledged assembly polls. Muslims, despite being around 15 per cent of the state’s population, the representation for the community in the state assembly is between two to five per cent.
|Muslim Representation in Jharkhand Assembly|
|Assembly Polls||Muslim MLAs||Parties of Muslim MLAs|
|2009||04||JMM- 02, JVM- 01, Congress- 01|
In the first assembly polls held in 2005, only two Muslim candidates could win. In 2009, the number went up to four, only to come down to two again in 2014. In all, eight Muslims have become MLAs in Jharkhand in the last three elections – five of them from the Congress.
Cracks in BJP-led NDA alliance brighten AIMIM’s chances
Even though the Jharkhand elections are being held after the Supreme Court verdict allowing the construction of a temple on the site where Babri Masjid once stood, the ruling BJP appears to be on the defensive, faced as it is with the anti-incumbency sentiments. Sensing the approaching set-back, the allies are parting ways with it. On Tuesday, a day before the last day of nomination filing for Phase 1, state BJP ally the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) released a list of its candidates, some of them for the seats where BJP has already fielded its candidates. The next day, the saffron party’s central government ally the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) also announced plans to contest 50 seats.
|Top Five Parties in Jharkhand Assembly|
|BJP – 30||BJP- 18||BJP- 35|
|JMM- 17||JMM- 18||JMM- 17|
|Congress- 09||Congress- 14||JVM- 08|
|RJD- 07||JVM- 11||Congress- 06|
|JDU- 06||RJD- 05||Ajsu Party- 05|
The Congress is fighting the elections in alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the RJD, and they are also likely to get benefits of the infighting in NDA. The five-phase polling will be held on November 30, December 7, December 12, December 16 and December. 20. Votes will be counted and results declared on December. 23.