Apparently alarmed at the growing influence of Asaduddin Owaisi and his party, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region, comprising Kishanganj, Araria, Purnea and Katihar districts of Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has announced a tour of Kosi and Seemanchal region after January 14.
The RJD’s apparent sense of restlessness comes from the opposition alliance losing the recent Assembly bypolls to AIMIM in Kishanganj. The AIMIM had also put up an impressive show by getting more than 2.9 lakh votes from Kishanganj Lok Sabha seat despite finishing third after the Congress and the Janata Dal (United).
Playing down Owaisi’s emergence in the Bihar political stage, RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said, “We do not take AIMIM as a threat. Since it is election year, we are beginning our focussed trip — Leader of Oppposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav will tour Kosi and Seemanchal areas.” Asked about the AIMIM’s growing influence in Seemanchal, Tewari said the party had won just one seat in the by-election.
“It is the RJD-led Grand Alliance which will be the main force (in the state elections, scheduled later this year). Our opponent is the NDA, not a particular party,” he maintained.
AIMIM’s Bihar unit youth president Adil Hasan Azad, however, said: “Our growth chart is for everyone to see since the 2015 state Assembly polls. The difference of votes between the Congress (winner) and our candidate in last Lok Sabha polls (in Kishanganj) was just about 35,000. We will further expand our base in the coming elections by contesting outside Seemanchal.” Unlike “other parties”, Azad said, the AIMIM is not playing up religious issues but talking about health, education issues and a package for Seemanchal.
Amid CAA protests, RJD sees opportunity
While the Congress has had a dominant presence in Kishanganj, the RJD is eyeing Araria, Purnea and Katihar. The party has been trying to strengthen its presence in the area after the death of Mohammed Taslimuddin, former Lok Sabha MP and the party’s face in Seemanchal area.
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