BENGALURU:The decision of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen(AIMIM) to enter the BBMP poll fray for the first time has added to the worries of Congress, which has high stakes in the BBMP polls as the ruling party in the state.
According to Bengaluru city president of MIM Mohammed Ibrahim, the Hyderabad-based political party is fielding its candidates from about 30 wards. The party, which made an entry into the Maharashtra Assembly with two seats, and fared well in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation election is hoping to make a foray into Karnataka through these polls.
Ibrahim sees a huge scope for MIM to strike roots in Karnataka. “Congress has done nothing for the uplift of minorities after using them as vote-bank. The minority community is disappointed with Congress and MIM is set to emerge as its new representative in Bengaluru in BBMP polls,” he said, speaking to Express.
The party is drawing up a campaign programme for its national president Asaduddin Owaisi in Bengaluru to address public rallies. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has already stated that he would be allowed to participate in poll campaign, but his speeches would be monitored to ensure that he desists from disturbing communal harmony.
Congress has taken serious note of AIMIM’s entry into poll battle as this could to eat into its own solid vote base of Muslims and dalits. Most of the 30 wards in which MIM is fielding its candidates are seen as traditional Congress bastions.
Congress had won 19 of these 30 in the 2010 BBMP election. With JD(S) also fielding a large number of Muslim candidates this time, these wards are set to witness a triangular fight for minority votes, which could benefit BJP indirectly.
Smelling trouble, Muslim leaders in Congress are drawing up plans to counter MIM at the ground level while campaigning.
Speaking to Express, Congress MLA from Shantinagar constituency N A Haris rejected the view that MIM could pose problems for Congress. “MIM cannot pose any threat to Congress’ prospects. Their communal politics will not work in Bengaluru. Minorities are solidly behind secular Congress and they will not fall for the communal agenda of MIM,” he said.
Haris said, “We will drive home the point to Muslim masses that every vote they give to MIM is like giving two votes to BJP. Supporting MIM would only help the BJP. The minority community will be made to understand this.”
State Youth Congress president Rizwan Arshad accused AIMIM of having a pact with BJP. “The pact between these two parties perfectly suits their political agenda. While AIMIM thinks it can emerge as the true representative of minority communities, the communally charged campaign of AIMIM will lead to Hindu consolidation, which will help BJP.
“The strategy has worked in Maharashtra, where the BJP-Shiv Sena combine won the Assembly polls and AIMIM succeeded in opening its account in Maharashtra Assembly,” Arshad said.
However, Arshad expressed confidence that AIMIM’s strategy would not work in Bengaluru, which has a very cosmopolitan, liberal ethos.
Muslim leaders, including moulvis, are opposed to the hardcore communal agenda of AIMIM and their services would be utilised to dissuade innocent minority community voters from getting swayed by AIMIM, he said.