Many have been shocked that AIMIM hasn’t tried to grow within Telangana, while having intentions to spread throughout the nation. It was only allowed to have eight seats in Hyderabad’s Old City for many years.

In various Telangana districts, including Nizamabad, Medak, Adilabad, Mehboobnagar, and Karimnagar, there are assembly constituencies with sizable Muslim populations. The community is represented by 15.35%, 11.29%, 10.07%, 8.24%, and 6.48% in each of these five districts, respectively. The percentage is even higher in the urban centres of these districts. Muslims make up enough of the population in over one-fourth of Telangana’s 119 assembly seats to make or break the prospects of any party.

However, outside of the eight seats in Hyderabad’s Old City, the AIMIM does not field any candidates. The party backed the TRS in all 111 of the open seats in the 2018 assembly elections. When the state holds its next election, the situation is probably going to stay the same.

In contrast, it has run candidates in the assembly elections in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand. It has now chosen to run for 30 seats in Gujarat, nearly all of which are seen regarded as Congress party strongholds. Muslims make up a smaller portion of the population in many of these assembly districts than they do in Telangana. Telangana has a larger percentage of Muslims than Gujarat (9.7%) and Maharashtra (11.54%), at 12.7%.

The AIMIM has declared that it will run for 100 seats in the Karnataka assembly election of 2023. Muslims make up 12.92% of the state’s population. In 2018, it offered support to Janata Dal candidates.

Even though there are just 9% of Muslims in Rajasthan, Owaisi declared in May of last year that his party would “go all out” for the election in December 2023.

According to Owaisi’s reasoning, the RJD, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, and other parties have “cheated” the Muslim community while the TRS is the largest supporter of the Muslim cause. Because of this, AIMIM has fought vehemently against them.

‘Expansion’ of Owaisi and AIMIM is More About Political Survival

The party has frequently been charged with helping the BJP by undermining the support of rival parties. It is now again the target of the same accusation as it prepares to run for office in Gujarat, Karnataka, and Rajasthan.

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The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which intends to broaden its political base by running in the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat, Karnataka, and Rajasthan, has once again come in for accusations that it is aiding the BJP by splintering the vote bases of rival parties.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) candidate lost to the BJP candidate in the most recent byelection for the Gopalganj assembly segment in Bihar by a margin of fewer than 2,000 votes. Political watchers have highlighted that Abdus Salam, a candidate for AIMIM and a relatively unknown leader, received more over 12,000 votes.

With 17.02% of the population in the district being Muslim, the AIMIM, which draws practically all of its support from this group, had no prospect of winning the election. Many political analysts think the goal of the party’s choice of candidate was to win over some of the RJD’s traditional supporters.

The Asaduddin Owaisi-led party’s choice to run in the Gopalganj byelection also ran counter to how it planned to approach the 2020 Bihar statewide elections. It was running for 20 seats at the time, half of which either had a majority of Muslims or a sizable Muslim population. Additionally, in contrast to Abdus Salam, the candidates it put out at the time include a number of seasoned politicians, some of whom had been elected as MPs from other parties.

The AIMIM ran candidates in more than 500 constituencies in the various assembly elections that have taken place since 2014, with the exception of Telangana, its home state. Because Muslims made up a tiny minority in a vast majority of them, the party was never in with a chance of winning.

It only won two seats in both of the Maharashtra assembly elections in 2014 and 2019, and five in Bihar in 2020, despite the fact that four of them switched to the RJD in June of this year. In Bihar’s Kishanganj by-election in October 2019, one AIMIM MLA prevailed.

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The party was only able to win 10 of the more than 500 seats up for election outside of Telangana. It utterly failed to win the remaining contests, and parties like the Congress have accused it of undermining their support and helping the BJP.

Understanding the tactics of AIMIM

Going back in time can help one comprehend this Hyderabad-based party’s political stance, as it was during those years after the Babri Masjid was demolished that it even reached out to the Congress.

Asaduddin’s father, Salahuddin Owaisi, was the party’s leader at the time. Some influential leaders broke with him in 1993 after learning of his alleged “secret understanding” with P.V. Narasimha Rao, who was the country’s prime minister at the time. The leaders established the Majlis Bachao Tehreek, claiming that Rao’s inaction contributed just as much to the Babri Masjid’s destruction as the karsewaks who carried it out.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), founded initially by N.T. Rama Rao and then by his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu, presented a significant challenge to the Hyderabad-based party as it cozied up to the Congress. The TDP won 226 of the 294 seats up for grabs in the 1994 Andhra Pradesh assembly election, compared to the Congress’s 26 victories. The AIMIM scored just one vote, compared to four in the previous election. By capturing two seats, the recently-established Majlis Bachao Tahreek performed better.

The long-standing partnership between AIMIM and the same secular Congress persisted until 2012, or only two years before Narendra Modi came to power and split Andhra Pradesh into Telangana. Akbaruddin Owaisi, Asaduddin’s younger brother, was detained after allegedly making hateful remarks was one of the reasons behind relations fraying.

The party had been adamantly opposed to Telangana’s establishment but had recently reversed course. It has since sponsored the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which was established with the primary aim of securing statehood for the region, to avoid additional embarrassment.

A sensible choice?

Owaisi’s backing of the TRS in Telangana may be motivated by pragmatism in order to prevent a rise in the BJP’s support in the region. The saffron party has established itself as the major opposition to Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao after winning four of the state’s 17 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

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The BJP performed remarkably well in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election conducted in December 2020, reducing the TRS’s strength from 99 the previous election to 56. The number for the saffron party increased from four to 48. The AIMIM was able to hold onto its 44 seats.

The AIMIM, a very small party whose peak was to have two MPs and ten MLAs, has had to make sacrifices in the past as well to make pragmatic decisions to shift political allegiances for its survival. It had a tacit understanding with parties in power, whether in states or at the Centre.

Imitiaz Jaleel, a member of parliament from Aurangabad, made the offer to support the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP administration in Maharashtra in March 2022, but it was declined.

Even though the parties do not require his support, Akhtar-ul-Iman, the state unit chairman and the only MLA in Bihar, never misses a chance to assert that the AIMIM supports the Grand Alliance government headed by Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav.

Owaisi’s harsh criticism of the so-called “secular parties” is understandable given that the AIMIM will never hope to win over any BJP supporters and that he can only hope to win votes from these parties. However, it can be argued that the saffron party’s mission of Hindu consolidation propels the reversal of Muslim consolidation towards the AIMIM.

The fact that AIMIM has previously publicly allied with the same secular parties and that the majority of its parliamentarians outside of Hyderabad began their political careers in organisations like the Congress and the RJD is a separate issue. The state unit president in Jharkhand’s 2019 assembly election was the son of a prominent former Congress minister. But throughout the campaign, he heard hurling all sorts of abuses at the “secular parties”. #KhabarLive #hydnews #hydlive

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