Senior AIMIM leaders from Hyderabad said the party has set eyes on about 10 districts out of the total 36 in Maharashtra which have 10% or more Muslim voters. “The proportion of Muslims in Maharashtra is about 14%, and clubbed with the Scheduled Caste (SC) and tribal population, the three communities comprise about 35% of the state’s population," said a senior AIMIM leader, who did not want to be identified.
He added that through the alliance with BBM, which has also formed a coalition with several SC, Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Muslims, known as the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), both parties are looking to pull away a good chunk of the 35% of minority and SC/ST votes in these districts.
The VBA is expected to dent the vote share of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, and the AIMIM is also likely to contest more seats than the 25 it had contested in 2014 during the Maharashtra assembly elections. The AIMIM had won the Aurangabad central and Byculla assembly seats, managing to get about 500,000 votes from all the segments it had contested.
The AIMIM has also managed to wean away some of the Muslim voters away from the Congress in Telangana. This was evident in the December 2018 assembly elections, wherein the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), led by chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, swept the polls by winning 88 of the 119 seats, including many, which the Congress party was expected to win.
Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha member of Parliament from the Hyderabad segment, had addressed public meetings across districts in Telangana last year, asking people to vote for Rao and the TRS. Nearly 20 assembly seats, including Nizamabad (urban) and Mahbubnagar, which have over 15% Muslim voters, were won by the TRS.
“The VBA-AIMIM alliance will have some impact. Out of the nearly five lakh votes the AIMIM got in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls, most voters were probably Muslims and I don’t think non-Muslims would have voted for the party in the two seats it won. This is the formula that Owaisi will use, like he has done in Hyderabad and Telangana. It can certainly make a difference in close contests like we have seen in many elections. The VBA contesting the Lok Sabha seats will be a very bad situation for the Congress and NCP alliance," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.