AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi spoke with a former BJP ally – Om Prakash Rajbhar of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party – in Lucknow on Wednesday, in a meeting described as preparation for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, in which AIMIM hopes to make some gains after drawing a void in the 2017 election.
There is renewed turmoil around Owaisi’s party after winning five seats in the recently held Bihar Assembly elections. AIMIM also survived a vitriolic municipal election campaign in Hyderabad, in which the BJP fielded UP Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath and directly targeted Owaisi.
The party, however, secured 44 of the 150 seats – the same as in previous elections – and today Owaisi took the opportunity to react in Yogi Adityanath’s territory.
“The department that Prime Minister Adityanath went to (to speak at a poll), the BJP lost all three seats … Where Amit Shah went, the BJP lost their jobs. change name, I’m here to win hearts, “Owaisi said at a press conference.
Yogi Adityanath and Interior Minister Amit Shah – the two leading figures who campaigned for BJP in Hyderabad – held street performances culminating in speeches addressed to Owaisi and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) ruling.
Yogi Adityanath addressed the voters in Lal Darwaza in the Old City of Hyderabad (which is seen as a stronghold of Mr. Owaisi and AIMIM), and stated that the BJP would change the name of the city to Bhagyanagar if it won the election.
“Some people asked me if Hyderabad can be renamed Bhagyanagar. I said – why not? I told them that we renamed Faizabad as Ayodhya and Allahabad as Prayagraj after the BJP came to power. Why can’t Hyderabad be renamed Bhagyanagar?” he said as supporters cheered.
Encouraged by its victory in an Assembly vote for the Dubbaka seat last month, the BJP has targeted the Hyderabad election as an opportunity to carve a space for itself in the southern state.
The party did not win the elections but fought hard, winning 48 seats against 55 for the TRS. In previous polls, the BJP had only won four seats against the TRS ’99. AIMIM has won 44 each time.
Basically, the BJP emerged with only 0.25% lower voting share than the TRS.
Owaisi’s Lucknow visit comes the day after Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the AAP will contest the 2022 UP elections.
Asked if he would ally with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj party for those elections, Owaisi said it was unlikely at this stage.
The BSP, AIMIM and Upendra Kushwaha RLSP have formed an alliance for elections in Bihar. The biggest beneficiary of that deal was Mr. Owaisi, whose party cut Congressional-RJD votes in multiple constituencies.
“We have been very successful in Bihar. Mr. Rajbhar played a role there … we were part of the Great Secular Democratic Alliance there. We have been encouraged by our success in Bihar and we hope to promote that success,” Owaisi told Lucknow.
AIMIM also said it will compete for the Bengal elections (to be held next year). The five seats won by the party in Bihar were in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region of Bihar, bordering Bengal.