Hyderabad: After making its mark by winning five seats in the Bihar assembly elections last year, the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has been preparing for the upcoming West Bengal state polls. While the AIMIM was banking on an alliance with a local religious leader to bolster the campaign, its plans seem to have gone a little awry.
As of now, there is no confirmation on the AIMIM’s alliance with Abbas Siddiqui, who heads the Furfura Sharif Dargah in West Bengal’s Hooghly district. Owaisi, who is also the member of Parliament from the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat, met Siddiqui on January 3 and said that he would work with the religious head. However, since then there has seemingly been any headway on the supposed alliance.
“There is a direct fight between Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). Unlike in Bihar, there are no alliances across parties here in West Bengal. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front and Congress have an alliance, means both are marginalised in WB. Our party will contest the polls, but how many seats is still undecided,” said a senior AIMIM leader, who did not want to be quoted.
The AIMIM has sent a handful of leaders from Hyderabad as observers to West Bengal as part of its preparation for the upcoming state polls. The AIMIM leader told siasat.com that there is no confirmation on its alliance with Siddiqui, who has since formed a party called Indian Secular Front (ISF), as Siddiqui is also supposedly in talks with a few other parties.
“We have district-level units in West Bengal, but we don’t have a state unit,” the AIMIM leader added. It will be interesting to see if the AIMIM managed to cobble up an alliance just before the state elections like it did in Bihar where it also won five assembly seats last year.
Owaisi, with support from rebel leaders who joined the AIMIM, joined the third front and contested close to 30 seats in Bihar. The AIMIM managed to win five seats while facing-off against the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Congress and Janata Dal (United)-BJP alliances.
In West Bengal, however, chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is believed to have support from a good chunk of the state’s 30% Muslim population. It is to be seen whether AIMIM dents her support base as well, or if it will fail like it did in Jharkhand.