Even before talks with Prakash Ambedkar-led Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) kicked off, Hyderabad member of parliament Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM had set its eyes on Aurangabad. AIMIM will also contest the Kishanganj Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar, said a party functionary, requesting anonymity.
Another senior AIMIM leader from Hyderabad, also requesting anonymity, said a team had been sent to Maharashtra to study the possible outcome of AIMIM contesting the seat some days ago. “Though the Aurangabad seat has a huge Muslim voter base, there was a concern that the Dalit votes might not transfer to us. Historically, Muslims as a community are used to voting for non-Muslim candidates, hence, we were discussing the matter," he said.Imtiaz Jaleel is the sitting MLA from the Aurangabad central assembly seat.
AIMIM also represents the Byculla seat in South Mumbai.In Telangana, Owaisi is likely to win the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat for the fourth straight term. The AIMIM has been winning it since 1984, when his father Salahuddin Owaisi had won it for the first time. The constituency is seen as the AIMIM’s bastion, as it has a considerable Muslim population, primarily covering the old city areas of Hyderabad.
The AIMIM had also retained the seven assembly seats of Malakpet, Chandrayangutta, Charminar, Yakutpura, Bahadurpura, Nampally and Karwan in the 2014 and 2009 assembly elections. Last December, Owaisi threw his weight behind the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and fielded only eight candidates in Hyderabad for the assembly elections. The move had helped the TRS win in seats outside Hyderabad, which have a sizable chunk of Muslim voters.
The party had also 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, but could not win any seat. Its best performance was in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly election, wherein it had put up 25 candidates and had won two seats.
“Owaisi has been looking to expand his party’s clout for a very long time and Maharashtra is the perfect state for him. While on one side the BJP and Shiv Sena will consolidate the Hindu vote, there is every possibility that the Muslim vote will also get consolidated to one side. In addition, Prakash Ambedkar will bring in the Dalit and marginalized sections, which will be a great opportunity for Owaisi to spread his wings," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
Reddy added that a divided opposition in the form of the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress pre-poll alliance is weak, and there was no clarity on how aggressive the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is.