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Owaisi’s entry may change UP’s political landscape

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Asaduddin_Owaisi_(2006)Lucknow:  The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Asaduddin Owaisi plans to contest the coming three-tier panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh, giving the jitters to the ruling Samajwadi Party.

Both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party have announced they will contest the elections on party symbol at some places and support strong candidates at others.

Highly placed sources in the Hyderabad-based AIMIM told IANS that its president Owaisi, the party’s only Lok Sabha member, has given the green signal to the idea of fighting the panchayat battle. The party, known for its radical views, is working on the selection of candidates and finalizing the election strategy.

The panchayat polls will test the waters for the future in the electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh where the AIMIM feels it will have a key role to play in the 2017 assembly elections.

Owaisi has for long been itching to get his party’s footprint in Uttar Pradesh but the Samajwadi Party government thrice denied him permission to hold rallies in the state. The Samajwadi Party clearly fears that Owaisi would poach into its otherwise reliable Muslim support base. Muslims and Yadavs played a major role in catapulting the Samajwadi Party to power in 2012.

Owaisi, however, slipped into Uttar Pradesh’s Iftar gatherings in Meerut and Agra. Both cities have sizable Muslim populations.
Owaisi, often seen as a firebrand, mingled with the Who’s Who among Muslims and gave special time to Muslim youth.

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is home to some 36 million Muslims. Their en bloc support to any single party creates a perception of winnability.

AIMIM state unit leader Mohd Tauheed Ahmed Siddiqui says the party will contest the Panchayat polls but “strategically and selectively”.

The winning potential of the candidates will be a key factor. The overall performance is expected to cast a shadow on the 2017 assembly polls.

The party, informed sources say, is focussing on western Uttar Pradesh – the flashpoint between Hindus and Muslims in 2013 when 67 people were killed in riots in the Muzaffarnagar region. Thousands became homeless.

Owaisi’s fiery speeches, his opposition to the hanging of Mumbai serial bombings accused Yakub Memon and his rant against Hindutva forces have endeared him to many Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, specially the youth.

The Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are haunted by the spectre of Owaisi eating into their vote bank.

“We are not sure of the exact impact but, yes, the AIMIM’s entry into UP is a worrying prospect,” says a senior Congress functionary.

Some feel that the AIMIM may meet a premature end like the Apna Dal, which till not long ago was a party to watch out for until it bit the dust in the 2012 battle.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is, however, happy over the development. Its leaders feel that Owaisi will further polarize the electorate on religious lines, in the process consolidating Hindus behind the BJP.

BJP strategists are also confident that Owaisi’s entry will further weaken the electoral prospects of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.

Established in 1928 to keep the then Hyderabad State independent, the MIM was banned after the state’s merger with the Indian Union in 1948.

Owaisi’s grandfather, Moulana Abdul Wahid Owaisi, revived it in 1958 to champion the cause of Indian Muslims.

It has seven members in the 120-seat Telangana assembly. Two of its candidates were also elected to the Maharashtra assembly last year, giving it a major boost. It has since decided to expand nationally.

Often branded communal by critics, the MIM claims to represent the interests of not just Muslims but all socially and economically backward classes. It says it is the only party in India to develop a chain of educational institutions and state-of-the-art hospitals.

(IANS)

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Congress To Use Tribal Card to Regain Power in the Country

Congress to use tribal card to improve countrywide position

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Congress Chhattisgarh
Congress will be using the tribal card to regain dominance and their plan of action will begin from Chhattisgarh. Wikimedia Commons

BY SANDEEP PAURANIK

In order to regain dominance in the country, the Congress is mulling using the tribal card. This plan of action is to be first implemented in Chhattisgarh.

Riding on the success of the Assembly and urban body elections, the Congress feels that it can increase it base through tribals as they constitute 8 per cent of the total population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first three Assembly elections in the state, after its formation in 2000, recorded huge victories and came to power. But after the Assembly elections held last year, the scenario changed. After registering a victory in the Assembly elections and then in the urban body polls, the Congress showed that it still dominates the tribal areas.

Rahul Gandhi Congress
Former President of Congress Rahul Gandhi gave an important message while innaugrating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur. Wikimedia Commons

The Congress gave the responsibility of the tribal areas to the tribal leader of Madhya Pradesh Umang Singhar which eventually helped the party. Now, the party is planning to spread out nationwide through Chhattisgarh.

Former party president Rahul Gandhi, while inaugurating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur, gave a message to the tribals who are here to participate in the festival that the Chhattisgarh government is working for all the sections and this is the reason why there has been a downward trend in naxal attacks and the state economy has also improved.

The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country because the tribal population in the state is 32 per cent.

BJP media panellist Sandeep Sharma, however, claims that the party’s base has not shrunk. He said till Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were not divided, the Congress was strong in the area but in the elections held after three years of the bifurcation, the BJP won the Assembly elections and was in power for 15 years. Though we faced defeat in the 2018 elections, the only reason was that people wanted a change but they were not angry with the BJP, he claimed.

The BJP won in the Lok Sabha elections and the margin in the urban body elections was also not much. So, it would be inappropriate to say that the BJP’s base has shrunk, he said adding that in one year the Congress’ base has declined by 9 per cent whereas in Assembly elections it got 12 per cent more votes and in urban body elections the margin was 3 per cent.

Congress
The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country. Wikimedia Commons

Analysing the political landscape of the state, political analyst Rudra Awasthi said, “When it was Madhya Pradesh then the Congress had stronghold in Chhattisgarh. Several big leaders were also from the state but after the formation of Chhattisgarh since Ajit Jogi was accused of being a fake tribal the Congress lost its stronghold over the tribals. Though it continued to dominate in some of the areas which helped it in regaining the power.

“As of now, the Congress has started including the tribals with the backward class. First Bhupesh Baghel was the state chief of the party and he was replaced by Mohan Markam as he became the Chief Minister. During the Assembly elections, the Congress talked about the identity of the tribals which helped the party. After winning the elections, the decisions of the Congress government were in favour of the tribals which helped the party in the urban body elections,” said Awasthi.

Also Read- Unity in Diversity is the Strength of the Country: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress is mulling over spreading its message to the tribals across the country through the three-day festival going on here. For this several senior leaders of the party will attend the festival and share the government’s schemes while giving the message that the Congress government in the state has brought a positive and a significant change in the lives of the tribals. (IANS)