NEW DELHI: Dubbing the AIMIM as the BJP's "B-team", Congress' Bihar unit chief Madan Mohan Jha on Thursday accused the Asaduddin Owaisi-led party of colluding with the BJP, but said it will not have any significant impact on the assembly polls as people will not "waste" their votes.
The Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief also said the Tejashwi Yadav-led 'Mahagathbandhan' will get a clear majority in the polls and the Congress will "definitely" do better in terms of winning percentage on the seats contested as compared with the 2015 polls.
In an interview with PTI, Jha said the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) will not be able to cut into the 'Mahagathbandhan' vote share as its voters will vote intelligently and not let even one vote go waste.
The assertion assumes significance as it comes ahead of Bihar Assembly elections' third phase which is set to see a triangular contest with the AIMIM entering the poll dynamics on many seats in the Seemanchal belt, which has a substantial Muslim population, to challenge the National Democratic Alliance and the RJD-led grand alliance.
The AIMIM is in the fray on 20 seats in Bihar polls, a majority of which go to polls in the third phase on November 7, as part of the Grand Democratic Secular Front that has four other parties, including Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Asked if the Owaisi-led AIMIM can cut into the Mahagathbandhan vote and affect its poll prospects in the third phase, Jha said, "The person you are talking about, the voters you are saying he could impact are very intelligent. They will not waste even a single vote. All voters will cast their vote intelligently."
"Yes, in one or two seats his strong candidates could have an impact, but the voters in general will not be swayed. I am confident the voters will not make a wrong decision," the Congress leader said.
On the assertions that Owaisi and his allies could be "vote cutters", Jha said every one knows whose team they are and from where they are guided.
The state from which Owaisi comes, he is not strengthening his party there but is giving tension to people in other states, Jha said.
The AIMIM had won a seat in the bypolls, but this is an assembly election and voters vote very carefully and intelligently in these polls, he asserted.
Jha said Owaisi's party was "definitely" BJP's 'B-team'.
"They are colluding with the BJP and look at their candidates, they give tickets as per the BJP's wishes," he said.
Asked if he believes that Owaisi's alliance partners were also the BJP's 'B-team', Jha said look at the stance taken by those who are with Owaisi and one would know the answer.
He said his statement that AIMIM and its allies were the 'B-team' of the BJP was based on what people of Seemanchal told him when he toured the area recently and he was just conveying their sentiments.
Jha said the 'Mahagathbandhan' had done really well in the two phases of the polls gone by and the trend has shown that a grand alliance government is going to be formed under the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav.
The Bihar Congress chief said he does not want to exactly predict any numbers, but was confident that the grand alliance will get a clear majority.
"Great enthusiasm was visible among the people at the four public meetings held by Rahul Gandhi in the last two days. Even the public meetings of Tejashwi ji, they are much bigger than the public meetings of the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and the Chief Minister (Nitish Kumar)," Jha said.
Asked if the grand alliance government comes to power will the Congress get the post of deputy CM, Jha said he does not want to comment on it as this was not an issue that is relevant right now.
On Prime Minister Modi's sharp attacks at the grand alliance, Jha claimed that the people of Bihar were "not taking his remarks seriously" and alleged that he was making statements not befitting of the prime minister's post.
Jha also said that the alliance between the BJP and Nitish Kumar's JD(U) was an opportunistic one and therefore, the bitterness between them was visible from time to time.
Asked about Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan and the impact he would have on the polls, Jha said some LJP candidates were having an impact in some constituencies, but whether he would have a role post polls, the people of Bihar will decide.
On whether the Mahagathbandhan would be open to an alliance with Paswan post polls, he said, "We will get a majority on our own and will not have to join hands with anyone."
Polling in 71 and 94 constituencies, out of the 243 Assembly seats, was held in the first two phases on October 28 and November 3 respectively.
The remaining 78 seats will go to polls on November 7 and the counting of votes will take place on November 10.