Updated: October 7, 2016 5:05:00 pm
Now that AIMIM head and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi has made his intentions clear to contest from Bihar’s Seemanchal region, comprising four districts of Kishanganj, Purnia, Araria and Katihar (24 Assembly seats together), there is a sense of unease among the prime stake holders of the secular vote bank — Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and Congress.
JD (U), RJD, NCP and Congress had won a seat each in Seemanchal in the last Lok Sabha elections, wresting away three sitting seats from BJP despite the Narendra Modi wave that gave NDA 31 of 40 Lok Sabha seats.
If there is one region the Grand Alliance looked confident of unsettling BJP once again, it is Seemanchal that has 10 Muslim-dominated seats and at least half a dozen more seats have a sizeable Muslim population. Owaisi has visited the region just once but has been the talk of political circles. JD (U) and RJD have been calling it a BJP design. But in private conversation, the three secular charioteers are nervous. They are restless due to Owaisi’s popularity among youth.
RJD and JD (U) are crying hoarse about conspiracy theories but they know it will be difficult to counter Owaisi, who has already threatened a JD (U) spokesperson with filing defamation case against him. Whether it is conspiracy or the ambition of the man from Hyderabad to expand his support base, Owaisi may upset some political arithmetic of Bihar election, which will be keenly contested.
Lalu Prasad’s camp is more disturbed with Owaisi’s plans because Lalu remained the prime stake holder of Muslim votes since 1991 Lok Sabha elections when Muslims had shifted almost lock, stock and barrel after 1989 Bhagalpur riots under Congress rule, which was defeated in the 1990 assembly polls. The Congress has been winning Kishanganj Lok Sabha and some of its assembly seats comfortably, but they also have a reason to worry. Owaisi is more about playing mind games with the Grand Alliance than about winning or losing. BJP has maintained that “nothing will impact their chances” in the upcoming elections. But privately, the party cannot hide its glee.
The battle lines are drawn afresh after Owaisi’s entry into Bihar.
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