Mumbai : The growing popularity of Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) amongst the Muslim youth is a major cause for concern for the Samajwadi Party (SP). The space where Abu Asim Azmi, once the SP’s state unit chief, stood tall is gradually being encroached upon by the Owaisi brothers.

This is evident from the fact that AIMIM managed to win two out of the seven seats it contested in the KDMC elections. The remaining five candidates fielded by the party lost by narrow margins. The success in the KDMC polls is the third major breakthrough of the party after the success in the 2014 Assembly elections and Aurangabad civic polls.

Experts say a section of the Muslim youth is gradually but surely shifting its loyalty from SP to AIMIM. They warn that SP will have a tough time countering the ever-increasing popularity of the AIMIM during the 2017 Mumbai civic polls.

“On Monday, AIMIM opened its account in Azamgarh too by winning a seat in the panchayat elections. If the Owaisi brothers can intrude into the hometown of Abu Asim and Mulayam Singh’s Lok Sabha constituency, snatching seats from the SP in Mumbai won’t be tough for AIMIM,” said a political expert.

AIMIM city president Shakir Patni said, “We have already begun our preparations for the BMC polls. According to our calculations, we should be able to win around 40 to 50 seats.”

The party currently has one MLA from Mumbai’s Byculla constituency.

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