Will Muslim-Dalit combo work in UP for Majlis

Having tasted success in Maharashtra, where it bagged two Assembly seats in 2014, the Majlis is eying Uttar Pradesh which is going to polls in 2017. The idea is to turn the party into a pan-Indian outfit.

By Author   |   Published: 18th Dec 2016   9:15 pm

Hyderabad: The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has set its sights on expanding its footprints across the country. It has broken out from the confines of the walled city of Hyderabad to try its electoral fortunes elsewhere. Having tasted success in Maharashtra, where it bagged two Assembly seats in 2014, the Majlis is eying Uttar Pradesh which is going to polls in 2017. The idea is to turn the party into a pan-Indian outfit.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Uttar Pradesh is the game-changer State. And the Majlis foray here has made all political parties sit bolt upright. Everyone is keenly watching the entry of Asaduddin Owaisi, the firebrand MP and Majlis supremo, for the larger political ramifications it may have in the next year’s Assembly polls. Not that his party would stake claim in government formation, but it would certainly play spoil sport for the Congress, SP and BSP.

In Maharashtra Assembly elections, the Majlis made deep inroads into the Congress bastion in Marathwada region, inflicting defeat on the party in at least six seats.  The party bagged two seats in the State. It repeated the feat in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation elections held in 2015 by emerging as the runner-up bagging 25 seats in the 113-seat corporation. Recently it put up a spectacular show in the Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchyats elections in Maharashtra bagging an impressive 39 out of the 60 seats contested by it. What these impressive performances prove is that the Majlis is no pushover.

This is precisely the reason why the Siddaramaiah and Akhilesh Yadav governments have been denying permission to Owaisi to hold public meetings and rallies. His plunge into the UP politics, it is feared, will push the State into the vortex of competitive communalism. There is the distinct possibility of Owais’s exclusionary rhetoric causing communal polarisation leading to higher degree of Hindu consolidation in UP eventually benefitting BJP. The Majlis is even accused of being the ‘B team’ of BJP.  But isn’t it a clear admission by other parties that they are unable to combat the BJP on their own.

Owaisi, who is seeking to consolidate the Dalit-Muslim votes with the slogan of ‘Jai Bhim-Jai Meem’, has received a shot in the arm with the rising attacks on these communities by Gau Rakshaks.  He has been invoking the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar while accusing the SP government of having an anti-Dalit mindset. By forging alliance with Dalits in Telangana and Bihar, Owaisi has gained electoral appeal. He has succeeded in striking chords of approval among agitated Muslim youth and the wronged Dalits.

In the UP local bodies polls, Majlis has done reasonably good bagging four seats — two in Balrampur and one each in Azamgarh and Muzzafarnagar. A look at the choice of candidates show that of the 50 candidates fielded, 18 were Hindus – a clear indication that the Majlis is trying to shed its Muslim alone image.

“Muslims have not suffered so much in any other regime as under the SP rule. Its days are now numbered and very soon it will be out of power,” predicts Owaisi addressing series of meetings in UP.

For the present the Majlis is looking for a semblance of power in UP. Will the much talk about Muslim-Dalit -OBC combination deliver it? A good showing in a significant State is bound to have its spinoff.