Ahmedabad: After tasting success in Bihar Assembly elections, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM is spreading its tentacles across the country and has expressed its desire to contest state elections. The Opposition parties have always criticised AIMIM for being the ‘Team B’ of BJP and ruining their winning opportunities by dividing Muslim votes.
While the debate over whether AIMIM is ‘Team B’ of BJP or not continues, the party has made former Congress MLA Sabir Kabliwala its Gujarat president. The way Kabliwala has been made the Gujarat chief at least hints that the party has leanings towards the BJP.
The entry of AIMIM in Gujarat comes at a time when the Congress is battling its worst phase—both internally as an organisation as well as on the outside. To make the most of the prevailing situation, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has sent two representative groups to Gujarat whose aim is to convert the state’s fractured Muslim votes into votes for the party.
The party’s representative groups comprised of Aurangabad MP Imtiyaz Jaleel and former Maharashtra MLA Waris Khan Pathan. The entry of these leaders in Gujarat and their political acts have forced a significantly important section of the Muslim community to distance itself from AIMIM.
During their three-day visit to Gujarat, several people were seen roaming around these leaders. The people, who were seen buttering the AIMIM leaders, have a dark history. In such a situation, the question arises that whether the AIMIM has arrived in Gujarat to politically represent the Muslims or to protect anti-social elements and drug and land mafias.
When the two party representatives landed at Ahmedabad airport, only anti-social elements were seen around them. One of those closest to Imtiyaz Jaleel was Ahad Khan. Ahad is the son of Wahab Khan, who is known for the bloodbath on Ahmedabad’s streets and for the terror he created in walled city areas such as Dariyapur, Kalupur and Shahpur.
After Latif, the residents of the old city areas have also witnessed the era of Wahab Khan Pathan. Apart from Ahad, there are many others who want to join AIMIM, especially those with close links with the crime world. Most of the gangsters from the Latif era have now become builders and want to gain political significance by joining hands with AIMIM.
Kabliwala, despite being a former MLA, has no identity beyond Jamalpur. Even in Jamalpur, he does not have the credibility to win a ward election. In these circumstances, Kabliwala is perhaps looking to revive his lost identity through AIMIM. Kabliwala was fielded by Congress in the 2007 election from one of the safest seats—Jamalpur. He won the election.
The Congress, however, refused a ticket to Kabliwala in 2012 and instead gave the seat to veteran Congress leader Wazir Khan Pathan’s son Sameer. Miffed by the decision, Kabliwala decided to contest the election as an independent candidate. As a result, BJP’s Bhushan Bhatt won the Jamalpur seat. Kabliwala, thereafter, met then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi leading to speculations that he might join the saffron party.
In the 2017 election, Kabliwala tried his best to convince the Congress high command that he can win the seat. In fact, even before he got a Congress ticket, he celebrated. However, the Congress eventually denied him the ticket and instead fielded Imran Khedawala from the seat, who eventually won the election.
Muslims comprise 9 per cent of Gujarat’s total population. In the 2017 election, Congress fielded five Muslim candidates and three of them won. The entry of AIMIM in Gujarat will result in the division of Muslim votes—a boon for the BJP and a bane for the Congress.