A day after the Aam Admi Party’s official announcement to enter the electoral fray of Uttar Pradesh in 2022, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi landed in Lucknow to sound the poll bugle.
Owaisi met an ex-BJP ally - Om Prakash Rajbhar of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party - in Lucknow on Wednesday.
This meeting is being viewed as the beginning of the consolidation of small outfits in the state. Owaisi and Arvind Kejriwal’s presence will further fragment the UP Assembly contest. Four big parties-BJP, SP, BSP and Congress are already there in the fray.
After winning five seats in the recently-held Bihar Assembly elections, AIMIM hopes to make some gains in the neighboring Uttar Pradesh as well. The party had drawn a blank in the 2017 election.
The AIMIM’s positivity comes from the fact that despite UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s direct attack on Mr Owaisi in the recently held Hyderabad municipal election campaign, his party managed to win the same number of seats it won in the 2015 elections.
"The ward that Chief Minister Adityanath visited (to address an election rally), the BJP lost all three seats... Where Amit Shah went, the BJP lost the seat. I am not here to change names, I am here to win hearts," Mr Owaisi took a dig at Yogi Adityanath who had promised in Hyderabad that he would change the city's name to Bhagyanagar if BJP won the election.
Ramesh Dixit, a political analyst, says, “AAP will not be able to do much in Uttar Pradesh, but Owaisi will surely make a difference in 2022 polls. Owaisi is a good orator and enjoys the confidence of a section of Muslims. His party will dent the vote bank of Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party considerably. This will eventually help the BJP.”
A senior journalist based in Lucknow says, “MIM is believed to be the BJP’s B team. Owaisi will polarise the elections. The party is likely to contest Muslim dominated seats and can throw many surprises.”
Muslims constitute over 18 percent of the UP's population. In over a dozen districts, Muslims are above 30 percent.
Athar Hussain, another political analyst, doesn't think so. “Owaisi might get a fraction of votes but I don’t think that the Muslim voters who have traditionally been voting for the Samajwadi Party, BSP or Congress will switch their loyalty to a Hyderabad-based party.”