Jaipur: Speculation about All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi planning to enter the political fray in Rajasthan has got stronger after the Hyderabad MP came out in support of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP).
The BTP has two MLAs who supported the Congress government in the Rajya Sabha elections and in the trust vote in the assembly that was necessitated after former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot’s rebellion.
However, the Congress joined hands with the BJP to scuttle chances of the BTP candidate becoming zila pramukh in Dungarpur district. The Congress-BJP combine nudged out the BTP on three panchayat samiti seats as well.
Angered by the Congress betrayal, BTP chief Chhotubhai Vasava said his party would withdraw support to the Congress.
Vasava found support in Owaisi who hit out at the Congress and the BJP and said the AIMIM supports the BTP in this fight for a share in power.
“Congress lectures others about opposition unity but itself cannot rise above ‘janeudhari unity’. How long will you walk with their support. Your political strength is not less than that of a kingmaker. Hope you will take a right decision soon,” Owaisi tweeted.
The withdrawal of support by the BTP will not have an immediate impact on the Congress government which has 105 MLAs and support of 13 independents, two CPIM and one RLD MLA in the 200 member house.
Party sources said the tie-up was hammered out at the local level to stop the BTP. Congress and BJP leaders held a series of meetings throughout the day on Wednesday and an agreement was finally reached at 2 am on Thursday.
Analysts say both the Congress and BJP are wary of the BTP’s increasing influence in the tribal areas and want to stop the party.
Analysts say Owaisi’s tweet indicates that he is keeping an eye on Rajasthan politics and assessing his chances, much to Congress’ discomfort.
The buzz in political circles is that Owaisi is exploring options to expand the party’s base in Rajasthan where Muslims constitute 10 per cent of the population. This is causing concern in Congress ranks over a possible realignment of the Muslim vote which it had taken for granted till now.
Of late, there is anger building up among Muslims against the Congress government over a number of issues. The demand for a Muslim mayor candidate was shot down by the Congress and Muslim leaders feel the community has not been given adequate representation in the cabinet nor in political appointments.
“Congress will definitely face a threat if AIMIM enters the electoral fray. Of the 200 assembly seats, there are 40-45 seats where Muslims are in good strength. Congress should not take Muslims for granted,” said Mohammed Sharif, a state Congress committee member and president of the Muslim Progressive Forum Rajasthan.