“The people of this region were victims of circumstances but now they are the master of their fate.”
The recently concluded Bihar election had some surprises to unleash. The favourite Mahagathbandhan (from here MGB) fell 12 seats short of reaching the majority mark. Nitish Kumar has already sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the seventh time. RJD is alleging irregularities in the counting of votes in as many as 10 seats and is not yet ready to accept the result wholeheartedly. Amid all these political puddle there is one political party which has come out all clean and happy, namely, AIMIM.
The ‘Hyderabadi party’ has won 5 seats, the highest number of seats won by it since its entry into the Muslim dominated Seemanchal region in 2015. Scenes were very interesting around 11:30 am on the counting day. Even though AIMIM was leading in most of the seats which now it has won, its supporters were in strange situation because it was around this time that the NDA had already gone past the 122 mark. The fear of NRC and CAA had taken over them. Although, they were celebrating the victory of their candidates they were sad because of the overall result in the State. Unsurprisingly, many started calling out names to AIMIM for the success of NDA in the State. The political party was branded as BJP’s B team and a vote cutter. But, is it a ‘B’ team of BJP or a vote cutter? If not, then whether is this political party good for the region? I would like to answer these two questions in this piece.
The answer to the first question can be very straightforward for all the data lovers. A big NO. Because as we know, a party is accused of becoming a vote cutter if it secures more votes than the margin of defeat in a particular seat and if its base is similar to that of the defeated candidate.
Out of the total 20 seats where AIMIM had contested only 6 seats were won by the NDA alliance. Since 16 seats were won by either AIMIM or the MGB there is no question of helping NDA in those seats. Out of the other 6 seats, the victory margin for the NDA in 5 seats were bigger than the total number of votes garnered by AIMIM barring one seat. In Raniganj constituency,JDU defeated RJD by 2304 votes and AIMIM secured 2412 votes which is only 108 votes more than the victory margin. This data is enough to show that AIMIM didn’t help the NDA alliance in any way.
The other important question that begs an answer is “whether AIMIM is good for this region or not?” Before this question is answered let me enunciate that I personally believe that identity politics only widens the fissures between different communities in our society. Even then we need to accept the reality that identity politics have entangled India so much so that we see every other party doing identity politics. No doubt that Asaduddin Owaisi has championed the Muslim cause and has emerged as a major Muslim leader just like Mayawati is for the Dalits. It’s the Congress and other such secular political parties which has facilitated the burgeoning of these political parties. In most of the cases it’s the Congress alone which is directly responsible for this uprising. Even if we ignore the past wrongs and talk about recent attitude of the Congress towards the minorities, they have been disheartening. The statements that were made just around the days of the bhoomi pujan at Ram Mandir by Priyanka Gandhi and the top leaders of congress,prepared a perfect pitch for Owaisi to hit bigger boundaries and score freely. Although, the Congress might have anticipated a good dividend in the by polls of UP and MP but it certainly backfired in Bihar and most importantly in Seemanchal. Also the MGB didn’t utter a word regarding CAA and NRC in its election campaign fearing that it might lose the votes of the majority community. This gave Owaisi an ample chance to consolidate the Muslim votes. This attitude of satisfying the majority community and letting down the aspirations of the minorities is paving the way for the other parties to grow easily.
I certainly owe an apology for taking a detour from the central question which was regarding the viability of AIMIM in the Seemanchal region. The answer to this question is YES, it’s possible for AIMIM to set a benchmark in the region not because it has emerged as a hope but because it has emerged as a healthy alternative.
Hitherto, the people of this region were victims of circumstances but now they are the master of their fate. I say this because up until now it was congress and its allies who bagged the seats of this region only because of the dogma “if not secular parties then who?” After more than 70 years of Independence now it seems that this region needed a political party so that it could receive the attention it deserved for its development.
Being a Muslim dominated area the elections for Congress and its allies were cakewalk and they sailed through victory very easily. I come from the Bahadurganj assembly constituency where the 4 times MLA had nothing substantive to show when he came out to campaign in the recently concluded election. For him the most outstanding work he has done in his 16 years as an MLA was that he didn’t allow the administration to carry on post mortem on those people who died an unnatural death. Moreover, the seriousness regarding the region of the Congress candidate was exposed further when he promised 3 IITs for the region and a ministerial berth for himself in his campaigns. How irresponsible and preposterous. Three IITs in one assembly constituency. They wanted to win the seat with these superficial promises. This shows their comfort level.
If it was not for the AIMIM, the Congress candidate would have won the seat easily even after mocking the voters with his superficial promises. Hopefully the presence of a tough competitor will make every party in the region more serious. Now every political party will have to toil hard to win a seat in this region. It also appears that those days would be gone when political leaders are seen only before the elections. The slogan of “Vote me or BJP will win” has become irrelevant with the coming of an alternative- here it is AIMIM. Hopefully the new slogan for every party will be “ Vote me because I have worked.”
Fahad Ghani is a law student at Aligarh Muslim University. He tweets at FahadGhani6. Views expressed here are personal only.