Prakash Bhandari: There is a growing uneasiness in the Congress camp on reports that Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is trying to have its footprint in Rajasthan. The Asaduddin Owaisi-led party, which was confined to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is jubilant after its electoral success in Bihar where it managed to win five seats.
But these seats were won in the Muslim dominated Seemanchal region during the recent poll for Vidhan Sabha. The AIMIM proved to be a spoilsport for the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar as it lost 15 seats because of the erosion of votes caused by the presence of AIMIM.
The AIMIM has no organised set up in Rajasthan, but a few detractors within the Congress are trying to get the southern outfit to have its foothold in the state.
In Rajasthan, the situation is different than Bihar or West Bengal as there is not a single seat where the minority population outscores the Hindu community. But there are sixteen seats where the minority votes play a key role in deciding the winner. But according to a plan drawn by the AIMIM, the party aims to upset the Congress applecart in 40 Vidhan Sabha seats in Tonk, Sawaimadhopur, Dholpur, Alwar, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Nagaur, Ajmer, Churu, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Barmer.
But there is not even a single Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha seat where the Muslims are in the majority. In fact, the Congress field Muslim candidates from constituencies that have a sizeable number of minority voters, but coupled with the support of the other communities, particularly the backwards.
Jaipur is the only Lok Sabha constituency that has about four lakh Muslim voters. There are two Muslim MLAs in Jaipur and in the border districts of Jaisalmer, which has a sizeable number of Muslims, there are two MLAs. In the border districts, the Muslim candidates could win only if it is supported by the SC Meghwal community.
Currently, there are nine Muslim MLAs, and Salesh Mohammed, the representative from Pokhran is the sole minority minister. But in the past, Congress had as many as 14 Muslim victors. Only Capt Ayub Khan has a record of winning a Lok Sabha seat from the minority community. He won the Jhunjhunu Lok Sabha seat as a minority candidate twice and that too under a strong Indira wave. No other Muslim could ever win a Lok Sabha seat.
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Thus, Owaisi who is coming to the state with the hope of mustering support of the minority would not be able to gain much, but it could certainly make inroads into the Congress votes. Rajasthan has about 13 percent Muslim population.
Upset with the move of AIMIM, Congress’ chief whip Mahesh Joshi, who commands the support of the minority said Owaisi’s party is working as an agent of the BJP. Joshi said Owaisi’s communal agenda will not work out in Rajasthan.
During the recent six municipal corporation elections in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota, the minority overwhelmingly voted for the Congress. In the election for Jaipur Heritage Municipal Corporation, the Congress could come to power largely because of the victory of minority candidates. But the minority community was very upset that its candidate was not allowed to become the mayor and the post went to a Gujjar woman, Munesh Gujjar, who comes from the OBC.
But the Congress is certainly upset with the idea of the AIMIM entering Rajasthan, which would make a sizable dent on its vote bank. Fearing this, Joshi has reacted very strongly after the news of AIMIM’s entry surfaced.
Alka Gujjar, the all India BJP secretary said that AIMIM and the Congress are the faces of the same coin and the Congress is worried because the AIMIM could make inroads into the Congress vote bank.
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