Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

Many Muslims In Eastern UP Say AIMIM's Time Mayn't Have Come In This Poll But Is Option For Future

The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) does not appear to be a serious contender in most seats albeit Azamgarh's Mubarakpur constituency. However, people say that in that constituency also, it has more to do with the strong candidate Shah Alam, alias 'Guddu Jamali', rather than the party.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi File Photo

AIMIM may not win many seats or may get restricted to playing the role of "spoiler" in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls but it has made inroads into SP and BSP bastions in the state's eastern parts with many Muslim youth seeing it as "their own" party that could be an option in the future. Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have traditionally oscillated between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and that is unlikely to change this time round as they seem weary of a division of votes. The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) does not appear to be a serious contender in most seats albeit Azamgarh's Mubarakpur constituency. However, people say that in that constituency also, it has more to do with the strong candidate  Shah Alam, alias 'Guddu Jamali', rather than the party. Several Muslims in parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, while acknowledging their liking for the AIMIM, state that this election is about ousting the BJP government and if they go for Asaduddin Owaisi's party, their votes would get divided and hand the advantage to the BJP. But, some Muslims argue that the AIMIM is their "own party" and even if it loses, it needs to be supported so that it expands. Obaidullah, a shopkeeper in Phoolpur Pawai, said Muslims got nothing in return for supporting the Congress, the SP and the BSP as no one voices their concerns. "Owaisi raises our voice. Why should we not vote for him. We must have our own party, everyone else does": he told PTI.

AIMIM chief Owaisi has also been aggressively attacking the SP and the BSP to capitalise on this sentiment and says in his speeches that these parties have "back stabbed" Muslims, even after they voted for them. The sentiment of the majority among the Muslims, however, seems to be that the SP or the BSP must be supported this time as priority is to remove the Yogi Adityanath government and votes should not get divided. Matloob Alam, having tea in a shop at Sagri, said, "The AIMIM would have got votes, but it will not happen this time as the main objective now is to vote out the Yogi government. Yes, there is support for AIMIM also, but it is not in a position to win." "It is a compulsion for Muslims to vote for SP this time to defeat the Yogi government, otherwise Muslims would have crossed over to the AIMIM," Alam said. In Azamgarh's Muslim-dominated Takia locality as people congregate at a spot they call their 'adda (hangout)' to discuss politics, they echo similar views, saying like in western Uttar Pradesh, even if Muslims are unhappy with the SP or the BSP, they have no option but to vote for these parties as no other party is in a position to take on the BJP. "In rural areas more so, Muslim youngsters are looking at the AIMIM with hope. But it is unlikely to convert into votes. Like people say, Congress is a good party but nobody votes for it. It is the same thing here," Shamim Agha, an agriculturist, said.

The candidates are also aware of this conundrum faced by Muslims as SP's Akhilesh Yadav, namesake of party supremo, who is contesting from Mubarakpur,  reminds people of the Bihar and the West Bengal assembly polls, saying while in Bihar the division of votes in favour of the AIMIM resulted in the victory of the BJP alliance, in West Bengal, where Owaisi's party could not make much inroads, the BJP was defeated. In Uttar Pradesh, people want Akhilesh Yadav's government, so there is no place for AIMIM in the state and in Mubarakpur, he said. Abdus Salam, the BSP candidate from Mubarakpur, said AIMIM despite all the talk will not cross 5,000 votes in his constituency. Many Muslims also argue that while people of the community are talking about AIMIM, eventually they will vote for the SP or the BSP at the last minute this time as they want a change of government in the state. In Takia, a Muslim youngster, said Muslims will go for the SP this time but if it does not respect the sentiments of the community after coming to power, the AIMIM is the party "of the future". A group of SP supporters in Zahoorabad constituency, where an AIMIM candidate, Shaukat Ali, is contesting, said Muslims may talk about AIMIM but in the end they will see the larger picture as to what needs to be done to remove the BJP government. Despite the talk of the AIMIM as an option, the buzzword among Muslims in this election remains "change". The assembly segments in Azamgarh and Zahoorabad will go to polls in the seventh and final phase of the assembly elections on March 7. The results will be declared on March 10. 

PTI Inputs