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Asaduddin Owaisi’s shadow looms large over West Bengal polls

Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen won five seats in Bihar election; four of them border West Bengal

Eastern Times , New Delhi: In Bihar the Mahagathbandhan’s worst fears came true. Hyderabad-based Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) grabbed a large chunk of the Muslim vote in constituencies bordering West Bengal. And that will surely make Trinamool Congress (TMC) rethink its 2021 assembly poll strategy.

In the just-concluded Bihar assembly election, AIMIM won five of the 20 seats it contested. Out of these five, four are contiguous to Bengal. In fact the AIMIM has helped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by grabbing a substantial chunk of the Muslim vote that would otherwise have gone to the Mahagathbandhan.

Most of these seats border Malda and North Dinajpur districts of West Bengal.

During his Bihar poll campaigning Asaduddin Owaisi had declared that he would contest the 2021 West Bengal assembly election. By cutting into Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress’s Muslim votebank, Owaisi has helped the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region.

When asked about being a ‘vote cutter’, Owaisi said: “Are voters slaves? Do they have to vote for the same party every time?” Asked if his party would support the Mahagathbandhan, he said, “It’s not right to comment before the final results are declared.”

In West Bengal the ruling Trinamool Congress has started work on the electoral arithmetic. The AIMIM is already active in North Dinajpur which borders Bihar and parts of Urdu-speaking Kolkata.

Eight Bihar assembly seats are contiguous to West Bengal. These seats in Bihar’s Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnea districts border North Dinajpur or Malad districts of West Bengal.

AIMIM contested all these eight seats and won four. Of the four Kochadhaman, Amour and Baisi are contiguous to North Dinajpur. Bahurdarganj, which AIMIM also won shares borders with Malda and North Dinajpur.

How much effect Asaduddin Owaisi and his All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen will have among Muslim voters in West Bengal will be known within the next six months or so.

But his showing in Bihar has surely set the cat among the pigeons in West bengal.

 

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