After winning two seats in Maharashtra assembly elections, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, led by Asaduddin Owaisi, is now planning to contest Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal assembly polls as part of its strategy to expand nationally.
At an Idea Exchange organised by the The Indian Express here, Owaisi said his party, however, would not field candidates in the Assembly elections in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, and in Bihar, where polls are due next year.
“We will definitely contest in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. We have no plans of contesting in Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand or Bihar. There is a sense within some sections of our party that anything is possible after our performance in Maharashtra, but there is no point in stretching beyond the means,” he said.
Till recently, the MIM was identified as a party limited to Hyderabad, represented by Owaisi in Lok Sabha.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee for failing to deliver what she had promised to Muslims.
“In Uttar Pradesh, we have been working for a long time. The elections are not going to be easy for Mulayam Singh this time. They have not done anything and have allowed riots to happen. They have deliberately allowed Muslims and Dalits to face off against each other. In terms of schemes too, nothing has been implemented. Muslims have voted for Mulayam Singh, but surprisingly no Muslim put up by his party has managed to get elected,” he said.
Owaisi said that most “secular” parties have not empowered the Muslim community. “Take the case of Mamata Banerjee (in West Bengal). Whatever she promised to the Muslim community, she has not delivered them. She is good at saying salaam-u-alay-kum and ameen in her speeches, but Muslims have gone beyond such symbolism,” he added.
Assembly elections in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are scheduled for 2016 and 2017, respectively.
According to Owaisi, it is increasingly getting difficult for Muslims to get votes outside their community. “They (Muslim candidates) are getting elected only from constituencies where Muslims constitute over 30 per cent of the electorate. As a Muslim politician, you should stand in election only if there are more than 30 per cent Muslims in your constituency or it is better you sit at home. A Muslim can vote for a member of other community, but he will not get their vote as they do not want a Muslim to win,” Owaisi said.
Speaking on Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Owaisi said such “lumpen elements” were being used by political parties for their own benefit and being imposed upon the Muslim community. “He (Bukhari) has not done anything constructive for the community. Has he even sponsored a single girls education in college… It is only the Delhi-based political parties which feel that he is relevant,” he said.