The All India Majlis Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) fielding candidates in the BBMP elections has given jitters to the Congress.
The ruling party learnt to have tasked its Muslim leaders R Roshan Baig, C M Ibrahim and Rizwan Arshad to take measures to control the damage the AIMIM could cause to the party’s poll prospects. The leaders are trying to hold talks with the community leaders so that they declare their support to the Congress, which has fielded Muslim candidates in 23 wards.
The leaders are also trying to meet the AIMIM candidates and convince them to become neutral in the polls. The AIMIM has fielded candidates in 29 wards, where Muslim voters are dominant. Jakkur, Thanisandra, KG Halli, DJ Halli, SK Garden, Nagarabhavi, Bapujinagar, KR Market and Padarayanapura are some of these wards. The party has fielded its candidates for the first time in BBMP elections.
The AIMIM is also extending its support to other independent candidates in about 15 other wards. The controversial AIMIM leader and MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who is known for his provocative speeches, had visited Bengaluru on Friday and reviewed the poll preparations by holding a meeting with the local leaders of the party. He slammed the Siddaramaiah government, describing it “drunk with arrogance” for not giving him permission to hold public meetings. He also charged that the government had failed to maintain law and order. But Owaisi did campaign for his party candidates during his visit. The State government had recently banned Owaisi from addressing public rallies.
The Congress leaders fear that AIMIM would divide Muslim votes, considered the traditional vote bank of the Congress. The JD(S) has also fielded its Muslim candidates in wards where Muslims form a majority of the voters. There is a likelihood of the BJP gaining an edge if the Congress fails to protect its vote bank, the Congress sources said.
Congress spokesperson Rizwan Arshad, however, said the party was not concerned with AIMIM contesting the elections. The AIMIM has no presence in Bengaluru, he said. Moreover, Muslims in Bengaluru have been secular and they will fully back the Congress, he said.
AIMIM Bengaluru unit president Mohammed Ibrahim hit out at the Congress, for what he called dirty games. The government is not allowing free and fair elections. The officials are turning down AIMIM’s requests for permission to campaign. “The Congress is worse than the RSS and the BJP. It (Congress) has misused and abused Muslims as a vote bank. People will teach the Congress a right lesson,” he said.