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BJP's 'Poll Pact' With Asaduddin Owaisi in Karnataka Worries Congress

The Congress said that some BJP leaders held a secret meeting with Asaduddin Owaisi asking him to field AIMIM candidates in at least 50 Assembly seats in Muslim majority areas to eat into the Congress vote.

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:January 30, 2018, 4:18 PM IST
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BJP's 'Poll Pact' With Asaduddin Owaisi in Karnataka Worries Congress
(L-R) File photos of BJP CM candidate BS Yedyurappa, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.
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Bengaluru: The ruling Congress has an Owaisi problem in poll-bound Karnataka. Top leaders of the party, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, are alleging that the BJP has a secret “deal” with the AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi to defeat the Congress.

The Congress even said that some BJP leaders held a secret meeting with Owaisi asking him to field AIMIM candidates in at least 50 Assembly seats in Muslim majority areas to eat into the Congress vote.

Siddaramaiah said Owaisi has agreed to spoil the chances of the Congress. “It is really a matter of concern. Owaisi who calls himself a messiah of the Muslims is actually a BJP agent. He has earlier helped them in UP and Maharashtra. Now he has agreed to help them in Karnataka. We want to expose both the BJP and Owaisi. It proves that they are neither with the Hindus nor with the Muslims. For votes, they can join hands with anyone,” Siddaramaiah said.

Karnataka Home Minister R Ramalinga Reddy was even more categorical. Speaking to News18, he said that the BJP is frustrated and using every trick in the book to divide Congress votes in Karnataka. “The BJP is holding talks even with radical organisations like Popular Front of India (PFI) and its political wing SDPI. They are taking the help of Owaisi, PFI and SDPI to split Muslim votes,” he added.

Owaisi’s Karnataka dreams are not new. He has been trying to build his party in Hyderabad – Karnataka region comprising Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Yadagiri and Koppal districts which were earlier parts of Nizam’s state of Hyderabad. This Kannada speaking region became a part of Karnataka in 1956. It still has a lot cultural affinity towards Hyderabad and geographically closer to it. This region also has a sizeable number of Muslims. After Kannada, Urdu is the second widely spoken language in the region.

The Siddaramaiah government has tried to stop Owaisi’s foray into Karnataka for the past three-four years citing law and order problems. Dozens of his scheduled public meetings were cancelled after the police denied him entry on many occasions.

Owaisi has been attacking the Congress government in Karnataka for years calling it an opportunist regime which is exploiting the Muslims for power. He has made it clear that the MIM will contest in the upcoming Assembly polls.

MUSLIM VOTES


The rumoured meeting between the BJP and the AIMIM has led to anxiety in the Congress due to the high percentage of Muslim votes in Karnataka. Even though no authentic figure is available with the government, the Muslim population is said to be around 11-13%. Some Muslim leaders claim that their population is over 17% and they are only next to Dalits in numbers.

The Congress is heavily banking on 13% Muslim votes and 3% Christian votes in the Assembly elections. They call it their base vote. According to Congress strategists, 15% minority votes give the party a clear edge over the BJP in a triangular contest. They argue that Congress can rely on 15% minority votes, at least 12% OBC votes, 10% SC/ST votes and another 10% upper caste votes, which will take their tally well above 40%. If Owaisi fields his candidates even in 40 seats, they fear he will take away 2,000 to 5,000 Muslim votes from the Congress helping the BJP in closely contested seats.

Reacting to Congress’ charges, BJP state president and former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said the shaky ruling party had been making wild accusations fearing a certain defeat at his hands. “Only a loser can make such allegations. We have nothing to do with the MIM,” Yeddyurappa said.

RESTLESS SECOND RUNG MUSLIM LEADERS


In Karnataka Congress, only a few Muslim leaders have been calling shots for years. First line leaders like C K Jaffer Sharief, K Rahman Khan, R Roshan Baig and CM Ibrahim are promoting their own family members denying chances to other Muslim leaders with no dynasty background. These leaders are getting restless and moving towards Owaisi and JDS to teach a lesson to the Congress.

A Youth Congress leader from Hubli-Dharwad who is also an Assembly ticket aspirant told on condition of anonymity that people like him are left with no other option but to go with Owaisi or JDS. He said, “Half a dozen Muslim leaders are controlling the Congress. They don’t encourage outsiders. They want their kith and kin to contest in elections at our cost”.

| Edited by: Puja Menon
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