Ahead of the October 21 elections, Aurangabad MP Imtiaz Jaleel speaks to The Indian Express about his party’s poll prospects, the status of Muslims in Indian polity and why its attempt at striking a Dalit-Muslim political front came unstuck.
How many seats is the AIMIM planning to contest?
We are right now aiming for around 50 seats but things are still fluid. We want to have an eclectic mix of candidates from across all communities. Let me tell you that the AIMIM will have the highest share of SC candidates compared to all other political parties in Maharashtra.
What will be AIMIM’s political platform for the elections?
There is a lot of distress in the farm and industrial sectors, which is hurting the people of Maharashtra, irrespective of which community or religion they belong to. Economic distress and underdevelopment will be an issue. Also, it is a reality of our times that no one stands for the empowerment of the Muslim community.
The community does not have adequate political representation and has been used by parties for their own purpose. Our aim in this election is to ensure the political empowerment of the community. A lot of people allege that our outlook is Muslim centric. However, apart from standing for Muslims, the AIMIM also stands for all those who are downtrodden and are manipulated in the existing political system.
What made you call off your alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi?
It was an alliance that could have transformed the face of the state’s politics. We were very much keen on having an alliance. We had initially demanded around 75 seats. For some strange inexplicable reason, there was a delay in taking a call on these seats.
One fine day, we were told that the AIMIM was being allotted eight seats. We were not even allotted the Aurangabad Central seat, which the AIMIM had won in the 2014 state elections. No self-respecting party will agree to such terms. We have tremendous respect for Dr Prakash Ambedkar but we felt it made sense to chart our own course.
We have repeatedly been hearing that VBA’s doors are open for us. However, the party is opening only eight doors and we want a lot more. It should have been more than 24, which was the number of seats we had contested in 2014.
Whom will the AIMIM support in constituencies where it is not contesting?