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Bihar elections: Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM not a major player in Seemanchal, voters give the party a cold response

In Kishanganj's Kochadhaman, AIMIM Bihar president Akhtarul Iman is contesting but the fight seems to be between Mujahid Alam of the Janata Dal United and BJP's Abdur Rahman.

Priyarag Verma | News18.com

Updated:November 2, 2015, 6:53 PM IST
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Bihar elections: Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM not a major player in Seemanchal, voters give the party a cold response
In Kishanganj's Kochadhaman, AIMIM Bihar president Akhtarul Iman is contesting but the fight seems to be between Mujahid Alam of the Janata Dal United and BJP's Abdur Rahman.
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Kishanganj: He came from Hyderabad breathing fire, taking Bihar leaders head on, speaking about the lack of development in Seemanchal and promising to turn the political situation upside down. There were some concerns initially that All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi would change the equation in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal much to the dismay of the Mahagathbandhan and the joy of the National Democratic Alliance.

But in the six seats spread across four districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Purnia and Katihar where AIMIM is contesting, its candidates are seen as "vote katuwa" (one who divides votes) and not genuine contenders. Even though Owaisi has targeted Muslim-dominated seats but several voters say his candidates are not in the race because they see him as an agent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

In Kishanganj's Kochadhaman AIMIM Bihar president Akhtarul Iman is contesting but the fight seems to be between Mujahid Alam of the Janata Dal United and BJP’s Abdur Rahman. Iman has been an MLA thrice but after the initial euphoria, he is struggling to convince voters. He has been with both the Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal United (JDU). In the 2014 Lok Sabha election he was the JDU candidate but withdrew at the last moment in favour of Congress candidate Mohammad Asrarul Haque, who won the easily.

In Nazarpur village some AIMIM volunteers are campaigning for Iman. When asked if he has any chance, one volunteer Wasim Akram says they receive a cold response from most of the people. After they leave 40-year-old Junaid Ahmed claims no one from the village will vote for Iman.

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"Unka idhar koi vote nahi hai. Iman sahib ka party ko koi kyun vote dega. Udhar dalne se vote katega. Hum log sab Nitish Kumar ko hi denge (He doesn’t have any vote in the village. Why should anyone vote for Iman’s party? It will only divide the votes. We are going with Nitish Kumar),” he says.

Near the village mosque, a group of youngsters playing cricket say it is a straight contest between Mujahid Alam and Abdur Rahman. Three of those playing will vote for the first time. “Yehan sirf teer aur phool ka muqabala hai. Aur koi nahi hai (It is a fight between the arrow of JDU and lotus of BJP. No one else is in the race),” claims Sikandar Alam, who studies in B.Sc first year in Katihar but has come home to vote which will be his first.

It is also not about Muslim consolidation but even Hindus living in the village say they are backing Nitish Kumar. “You can check the status of electricity. We get it for almost 20 hours. The condition of schools has also improved. Earlier the buildings were in a very poor condition. But Nitish Kumar has got them repaired. There is some corruption but overall we are happy with his government," says Chunnu Mandal, another first time voter.

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In Kishanganj town, too, AIMIM is seen as a non-entity. "Owaisi will flee Bihar after elections. His candidates are going to lose deposit. There is no way he will get votes in Kishanganj or any other area. He is just a rabble rouser," says mobile shop owner Karimullah.

When Owaisi addressed a fairly well attended rally on August 16 in Kishanganj, he was trying to test the waters for AIMIM’s electoral debut in Bihar. Buoyed by the cheering crowd Owaisi announced the plant to contest 25 seats in Seemanchal but soon faced a paucity of candidates as the word spread that he was acting as an agent of the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

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AIMIM finally put up candidates in Kishanganj, Kochadhaman, Raniganj, Baisi, Amour and Balrampur. Except for Raniganj in Araria district which is reserved for Scheduled Castes and the AIMIM candidate is Amit Kumar Paswan, a Dalit, the other candidates are Muslims.

While justifying AIMIM’s decision to contest in Bihar, which is hundreds of kilometers away from the party’s base in Hyderabad, Owaisi has been claiming that Mulsims in the state need an outfit and leader who can champion their cause. But his arguments and fiery speeches despite drawing huge crowds have failed to cut much ice.

In Amour constituency of Purnia district AIMIM candidate Mohammad Nawazish Alam is not even seen campaigning aggressively. In many villages AIMIM flags and posters are not visible, and voters have not even heard of him.

"Who is he (Nawazish Alam)? We know about AIMIM and Owaisi. But he is not a player in this election. There are many who are contesting and Nawazish Alam has no chance," say Abdul Sattar and Chandan Sah of Piprapur Wari village.

A local journalist says Owaisi's party managed to create some buzz initially because he is a good orator and due to the novelty factor. But with election day approaching, voters have realized that he is not a serious player and so they are unlikely to go with AIMIM. Some may still vote for AIMIM candidates but it will be a miniscule number.

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