Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) made huge gains in the Bihar results declared Tuesday, winning five seats out of 24 in the Seemanchal region. In the process, it scuttled the Mahagathbandhan’s hopes of improving the tally of 14 it had won in the 2015 Assembly elections from this region, which has a high number of Muslims. Follow Bihar results LIVE updates
The AIMIM had fielded 16 candidates in Seemanchal, presenting itself as an alternative to the RJD and Congress — the traditional winners from the region. Though it lost from Kishanganj Vidhan Sabha constituency, the only seat it held in the Assembly, its impact wasn’t just felt in the five constituencies that it won, but in also how it damaged the Mahagathbandhan in several others.
Of the Seemanchal’s 24 seats, in the outgoing Assembly, the RJD, Congress, and Left (together the Mahagathbandhan) held 14, the NDA 9 and the AIMIM one.
The party’s Bihar president, Akhtar-ul Iman, won from Amour, defeating sitting Congress MLA Jaleel Mastan, who has represented the constituency six times. Mastan finished third, behind the JD(U)’s Saba Zafar. Iman secured over 55% of the vote share, having shifted from Kochdhaman seat.
His party colleague Muhammed Izhar Asfi defeated sitting JD(U) MLA Mujahid Alam in Kochadhaman, with the RJD’s Shahid Alam finishing third. Asfi again won big, cornering nearly 50% of the vote share.
In Bahadurganj, the Congress’s Tauseef Alam lost to the AIMIM’s Mohammed Anzar Nayeemi. NDA ally Vikassheel Insaan Party’s Lakhan Lal Pandit came second in this constituency, which Alam had represented in 2010 and 2015.
RJD stronghold Baisi also went to the AIMIM, where its candidate Syed Ruknuddin Ahmad unseated Haji Abdus Subhan, who finished third behind the BJP’s Vinod Kumar. The RJD was confident of retaining this seat. During campaigning, Tejashwi Yadav had even announced that Subhan will get a Cabinet berth if he wins again.
In Jokihat of Araria district, the AIMIM’s Shahnawaz Alam, with a vote share of 34%, defeated his brother Safraraz Alam, who contested on an RJD ticket. With a vote share of 28%, the BJP’s Ranjit Yadav came second. Alams are the sons of former Union minister Taslimuddin who enjoyed massive support and popularity in Seemanchal. He passed away in 2017.
Owaisi had led a high-voltage campaign in the Seemanchal region that has a high proportion of Muslims. Buoyed by its decent performance in the last Lok Sabha elections when it got nearly 3 lakh votes in Kishanganj, the AIMIM had decided to contest in 20 seats in Bihar, with 16 candidates in the fray in Seemanchal, and formed a six-party alliance led by Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and including the BSP. The first victory for the party in the state had come in 2019 when it had won the Kishanganj Assembly seat in a bypoll, necessitated by the election of Congress MLA Mohammad Jawed to the Lok Sabha.
Many had predicted that with the race for Bihar being so tight, Seemanchal could hold the key to government formation. As those predictions appeared to be coming true, one thing was clear: the AIMIM, dismissed by both the major fronts and struggling to expand beyond Owaisi’s base of Hyderabad, has arrived in the state.
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