The Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) may contest Lok Sabha elections in select seats in Maharashtra and Bihar, party leaders said.
AIMIM has a pre-poll alliance with the Prakash Ambedkar-led Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh in Maharashtra. It is expected to contest the Aurangabad seat in Maharashtra and Kishanganj in Bihar.
In the 2014 general election, AIMIM contested five seats, one in Andhra Pradesh and four in Telangana. Party chief Owaisi managed to secure the party’s sole Lok Sabha seat by winning from Hyderabad, which it has held since 1984.
Other than Telangana where it has seven members of legislative assembly (MLAs) in Hyderabad Old City areas alone, the party has two MLAs in Maharashtra.
“We are likely to contest the Kishanganj Lok Sabha seat in Bihar and the Aurangabad parliamentary seat in Maharashtra where there are a considerable number of Muslims. We have to see how things shape up, even with the third front which (Telangana Rashtra Samithi, or TRS, leader) K. Chandrashekar Rao is forming," said an AIMIM leader who did not want to be named. The party is currently on friendly terms with the TRS.
The AIMIM unsuccessfully contested six seats in the Seemanchal region of Bihar in the 2015 assembly election and 38 seats in the November 2017 state polls in Uttar Pradesh. Its best performance was in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly election, where it put up 25 candidates and won two seats with comfortable margins.
The AIMIM leader cited above said that other than the Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra, the party is also looking to field candidates in the Marathwada areas (like Osmanabad, Nanded, etc.), which were earlier part of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad. “We have a proper party structure and have been strengthening it over time," he added.
AIMIM’s attempt to step out of Telangana is seen by political analysts as a move by Owaisi to become a national face.
“The AIMIM is working to ensure that the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vote is split, as they don’t want any vote to go towards the Congress. It does not have to win, but just create a mark. Owaisi is being projected as a national leader, and even winning one more Lok Sabha seat outside Hyderabad will create an aura for him," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
He added that while Muslims are not a homogenous group, Owaisi making a mark outside Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha polls will make him a big force. “The tie-up with Prakash Ambedkar is also working really well, and it will put a lot of pressure on the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress," Reddy stated.