The question is whether the AIUDF in Assam and the Indian Secular Front King in Bengal may not be right, but will be able to play the role of Kingmaker? The Muslim League in Kerala has been a part of the Congress-led UDF for a long time. Asaduddin Owaisi’s party AIMIM is trying to establish its identity in Bengal and Tamil Nadu by keeping distance from the politics of Kerala-Assam under a well thought out strategy.
This election will also decide how successful the political bets the Congress has played by joining hands with parties of particular religious identity, AIUDF or Indian Secular Front, irrespective of all the criticism on the issue of secularism? In Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, the Congress is leading or joining active alliances, including parties with influence among Muslims.
Will these parties prove to be helpful to the Congress?
The AIUDF led by Badruddin Ajmal in Assam, the Indian Secular Front of Abbas Siddiqui in the Congress-Left alliance in Bengal and the Indian Muslim League in the Congress-led UDF in Kerala. The Congress has had ties with the Muslim League and AIUDF in the past, but with the BJP’s polarizing politics moving ahead on the agenda of a strong Hindutva, this alliance has become a major political risk.
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These three parties (AIUDF, IUML and ISF) do not currently have any national ambitions under the patronage of Muslim leaders, but how effective these parties will be in the strengthening of the Congress at the national level or the return of power to the Center, these The layer of confusion on the questions can be cleared to a great extent. The Left-Congress and ISF alliance in Bengal may not get a majority, but the question is whether it will be able to get enough seats to play the role of a kingmaker in the event of a hung assembly?
Every time there is a change of power between the UDF and LDF in the Kerala Assembly elections, but if we talk about surveys, this time the signs are not good for the Congress. However, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who himself is a MP from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, is putting full emphasis in Kerala. But the Congress is most likely expected from Assam, where apart from Badruddin Ajmal, who has a deep penetration of 35 per cent of the Muslim population, the Grand Alliance of several parties including Bodoland People’s Front has presented a strong challenge to the BJP.
However, the spontaneity of bringing Muslims along with the Dalits and the backward by putting Muslims at the center and presenting alternatives at the national level is clearly visible in AIMIM. Once known as the party of Hyderabad, AIMIM today is increasing political scope in states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Owaisi is trying to present a different option for Muslims in Indian politics. Asaduddin Owaisi has also made clear his intention to take AIMIM to the national level. He does not approve of the patronage of Congress, SP-BSP, RJD or any other party, which has so far pulled Muslim votes in its court by claiming the alternative of BJP and cashing in on its alleged secular image. Irrespective of allegations like ‘vote katua’ or BJP’s B team, Owaisi is also putting the ballot in the electoral fray in states like Bengal, Tamil Nadu after Bihar. Owaisi is excited about Owaisi’s party winning 5 seats in Bihar elections.
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The Owaisi factor was considered to be the main reason for the Mahagathbandhan staying away from power. AIMIM performed well in Muslim-dominated areas in the Gujarat Municipal Elections. His party won 17 seats in three civic bodies including Godhra, Modasa and, like the Aam Aadmi Party, caused tremendous injury to the Congress. However, in the current assembly elections, especially in Bengal, Owaisi received a major blow to expectations when Furfura Sharif’s influential Maulana Abbas Siddiqui went to the Left-Congress court at the last moment. But his thinking of expansion in the whole country has not changed. They are also ready to enter the election summer of Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu, AIMIM was not even mentioned. The DMK withdrew the invitation given to Owaisi at the party’s minority conference following strong objections from the coalition’s two Muslim allies IUML and Manithneeya Makkal Katchi (MMK). In AIMIM Tamil Nadu, Sasikala’s nephew Dinakaran’s party has entered the fray with the AMMK. Owaisi has kept distance from Assam and Kerala for the time being. Ajmal in Assam and social group Thangal in Kerala continue to dominate the Muslims.
Some political analysts speculate that if AIMIM had landed in Bengal with Abbas Siddiqui, there would have been a large disintegration of Muslim votes between his alliance, TMC, Left-Congress and the BJP would have benefited. But ISF’s alliance with mainstream political parties can bring great success to Siddiqui. 35-year-old Abbas Siddiqui had been opening a front against Mamata Banerjee since 2019. He has presented a strong challenge by connecting many tribal and Dalit groups with ISF. After Owaisi’s announcement to field candidates for 13 of the 22 seats in Murshidabad, it will also be interesting to see where the Congress-Left alliance and TMC and AIMIM will lean towards minority votes.
What will Ajmal become a kingmaker?
Perfume businessman Badruddin Ajmal formed the Assam United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in October 2005. Just next year, the AIUDF got 10 seats in the 2006 assembly elections. The AIUDF had won 18 seats in the 2011 elections and 13 seats in the 2016 elections. The party won 3 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time the AIUDF is in the fray on 21 seats out of 126 in Assam. 71-year-old Ajmal Darul Uloom studied from Deoband and is a three-time MP from Dhubri seat in Assam. His party won 3 Lok Sabha seats in the Modi wave in the 2014 elections, but in 2019, he could save only his seat.
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Owaisi’s AIMIM across the country
The AIMIM, once called the party of Hyderabad, has held the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat since 1984. In the 2014 elections, the party achieved the status of the party of the state by winning 7 seats in the Telangana assembly elections. But two seats in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections and one seat from Maharashtra in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party indicated its growing scope. The party has encouraged the party by winning 5 seats in the Bihar Assembly elections. Owaisi’s family has been in politics for a long time. His grandfather Abdul Wahid Owaisi launched the party in the name of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in 1957. Asaduddin’s father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was an MP from Hyderabad from 1984 to 2004. At the same time, Owaisi, a lawyer by profession, has studied at the famous Lincoln Inn in London. He is a Member of Parliament from Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat for four consecutive times and is also named among the 500 influential Muslim personalities in the world.
IUML one of the oldest Muslim parties in the country
If the Indian Union Muslim League is called the oldest Muslim party in the country after partition, it will not be wrong. The Indian version of the Muslim League which led to the partition of the country after the movement led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah is called the Indian Union Muslim League. IUML, which has established in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, has been included in the Congress-led coalition UDF in Kerala. He has been represented in the Lok Sabha along with the Legislative Assembly. At present, four of his MPs are in the Lok Sabha. It also has 19 MLAs in the Legislative Assembly of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In the initial period, its scope was as far as states like UP, Maharashtra, Assam, Bengal and Karnataka. In Bengal, he was also a minister in the United Front Government of 1967. This time the IUML is contesting 27 of the 140 assembly seats in Kerala. Despite the UDF defeat last time, IUML won 18 out of 24 seats. Apart from Kerala, IUML is also contesting in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu. It has got 3 seats in Tamil Nadu’s DMK-Congress alliance.
Indian Secular Front is the newest name
The newest name in the list of Muslim parties is of the Indian Secular Front. It was formed by the influential religious leader of Furfura Sharif Abbas Siddiqui in Hooghly district in January, just before the election announcement in Bengal. This front is part of the Left and Congress alliance in Bengal and is in the fray for 37 seats. The candidates of the Front will be in the fray on the ticket of the National Secular Majlis Party, as the party does not yet have the approval of the Election Commission. How much this alliance will hurt the Trinamool Congress in Bengal will be known only after the elections. However, by fielding more than 10 Hindu candidates, the Front has tried to show that it is not a Muslim party. Siddiqui’s younger brother Naushad is also in the fray.
One thing to note is that the Muslim parties who have contested elections in alliance with Congress or other non-BJP parties have a range of 75 to 85 per cent. The AIUDF in Assam and the Muslim League in Kerala are examples of this.