How AIMIM went from 0 to 5 seats in Bihar Legislative Election

Kishanganj district where AIMIM won four seats has more than 60 per cent Muslim population, followed by Araria with 45 per cent, Katihar at 40 per cent and Purnia over 30 per cent

By Sumit Jha  Published on  13 Nov 2020 1:29 PM GMT
How AIMIM went from 0 to 5 seats in Bihar Legislative Election

Hyderabad: When Bihar Legislative election results were announced on 10 November no one expected All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to win five seats.

Though the BJP-led NDA alliance won the election, AIMIM made its mark in the highly Muslim populated districts proving that the party is here for the long run.

Kishanganj district where AIMIM won four seats has more than 60 per cent Muslim population, followed by Araria with 45 per cent, Katihar at 40 per cent and Purnia over 30 per cent, according to Election Commission data. Muslims make for 16.09 per cent of the state's population.

In 2015, AIMIM contested on six seats and lost in all to then RJD, JD(U) and Congress alliance. AIMIM also contested in the 2019 Parliamentary elections and lost at that time, but in the 2019 Assembly bypoll, the party won a seat in Kishanganj.

The local journalists explain the political changes that had happened since the last election. "The persona of Assaduddin Owaisi had made an effect since the last bypoll in 2019. The success is not sudden. It was pre-planned. We have seen AIMIM cadre working at grassroot level for quite sometime now, addressing the troubles that people face there," said Ravi Shankar, an independent journalist based in Patna.

Secular politics

For a long time, the RJD and Congress, with their secular politics, were favourites for the people of Seemanchal for a long time. Former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav getting L.K. Advani arrested in Samstipur in the 90s had an impact on the Muslim community.

Later, when Nitish Kumar entered politics and he also entered on the same agenda of secularism, though he failed when he joined the BJP. Then, the entry of Asaduddin Owaisi in 2015 made a huge difference. "In the state, people found that Owaisi talks about Muslim identity and the issues minorities face and this had an impact on the youth. This happened at the time when RJD and Congress were losing ground. Hence Owaisi started gaining popularity," said a senior Journalist in Bihar.

Asaduddin Owaisi during a rally in Bihar

CAA/NRC and Ram Mandir Issue

The CAA-NRC and Ram Mandir issue had a larger impact in this area. "It was only after Owaisi raised his vocie against the CAA and NRC did the other parties join in later. Also, the AIMIM was the only party that raised objection on the construction of Ram Mandir. Seeing Congress also trying to appease the Hindu vote by supporting the construction of the temple, the mood of Muslim youth tilted towards AIMIM," said Ravi Shankar.

The Pasmandas factor

Pasmandas Muslim, a lower caste Muslim community, consists of 80 per cent of the total Muslim population in Bihar. Since Congress always proposed its candidates from the upper castes, Pasmandas never benefited from the Congress candidature. "Pasmandas always felt unrepresented in politics. Their voices were always raised by Ashraf Muslims of the secular party. Seeing a Muslim party that can represent and bring them out of backwardness, more began to shift to AIMIM from Congress and RJD," said a journalist from Patna.

The party chose from local candidates who were working at ground level for a long time. Unlike other parties, AIMIM didn't fill the parachute candidate. "The lower caste Hindu also voted for these candidates," said Ravi Shankar. The Muslim community in Bihar doesn't want to see themselves as just a vote bank anymore.

Congress had referred to AIMIM as the B-team while BJP looking at the polarisation in the state. "The vote was always meant for AIMIM. The Muslim community see Asaduddin Owaisi as a representative of their community in the national scenario so they voted for Owaisi," said the senior journalist.

The party's state president, Akhtarul Imam, won from Amour constituency defeating JD(U) candidate Saba Zafar by more than 50,000 votes. Akhtarul Imam secured 94,459 votes.

Muhammed Izhar Asfi from Kochadhamam constituency defeated JD(U)'s Mujahid Alam by more than 35,000 votes and secured 79,893 votes. Meanwhile, Shahnawaz Alam, the AIMIM candidate from Jokihat constituency, won by around 7,000 votes. He defeated Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate Sarfraz Alam and secured 59,596 votes.

AIMIM candidate from Baisi constituency, Syed Ruknuddin, defeated BJP's Vinod Kumar by more than 13,000 votes and secured 68,416 votes. The party's candidate from Bahadurganj constituency, Azhar Nayeemi, defeated Lakhan Lal Pandit of Vikasheel Insan party by more than 45,000 votes getting 85,855 votes. AIMIM had contested 20 seats in the Bihar election.

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