Owaisi’s party started with a bang, ended in a whimper


Soroor Ahmed

The man who stormed into Seemanchal region of Bihar as early as August 16 last and made a big headline in the national media is hardly visible in the newspapers and television channels when the four bordering districts are actually going to poll on November 5.
Two and a half months later the president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, Asaduddin Owaisi, is struggling to get coverage even in the Urdu media of the state though he has been camping in Seemanchal for the last few days. 
His ambition to emerge as the leader of Muslim community of India appears to have received a serious setback. A big question mark hangs before MIM just six months ahead of West Bengal election. Another state with a good Muslim presence and where too he wants to make an inroad, Uttar Pradesh, goes to poll in early 2017. 
Owaisi, who was the first to launch election campaign in the region, is now virtually a forgotten man by the national media as fierce electoral battle is on between the three-party grand alliance and the BJP-led NDA.
On August 16 Owaisi hinted at contesting election in Seemanchal. Initially it was announced that the party may put up candidates in 24 seats of the region.
A month later he announced the names of only six candidates––five Muslims and a Dalit. The MIM struggled to even get 24 candidates. Perhaps no party in electoral history of India faced such a situation in just over a matter of weeks.
Five of its six candidates are political greenhorns. Only the newly appointed state president, Akhtar-ul-Iman is a two-time RJD MLA from Kocha Dhaman in Kishanganj. He is now contesting the same seat again from Owaisi’s party.
MIM is paying the price for taking the Muslim voters of Bihar for granted and for going to poll without doing any homework. By launching a massive attack on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on August 16 he confused his supporters in the rest of Bihar, where MIM was not contesting. The undue media coverage given to Owaisi brothers further created suspicion in the mind of Muslims. There is now no dearth of people in the community who accuse him of playing spoilsport for the grand-alliance and thus indirectly helping the BJP.
Later realizing that only one-third of the 24 seats of Seemanchal are Muslim-majority, Owaisi changed the gear. Instead of talking about the neglect of Muslims he started raising the issue of backwardness of Seemanchal. Then the idea of Dalit-Muslim alliance was floated. But all these moves did not work.
By the time the election dates approached six of his party’s candidates were left high and dry.
In such a scenario the party would be lucky even if it manages to open its account.

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