LS polls: Owaisi queers the SP pitch in west UP

| | Lucknow
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LS polls: Owaisi queers the SP pitch in west UP

Saturday, 02 March 2024 | PNS | Lucknow

After the cross-voting by seven MLAs of the Samajwadi Party during the recent Rajya Sabha elections, the announcement by Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to contest 21 Lok Sabha seats in western Uttar Pradesh with significant Muslim population has added to the woes of SP, a key constituent of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

As UP gears up for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, all eyes are on the 26 per cent Muslim voters in western UP, with more than 30 per cent in 21 seats, a crucial influence. The Owaisi factor has the potential of altering the dynamics of the Samajwadi Party-Congress tie-up in UP.

AIMIM spokesperson Mohammad Farhan has demanded five seats from the opposition INDIA bloc, and has threatened to contest on 25 seats if denied. The party contends that not getting the requested seats would have significant consequences.

There are speculations that Owaisi might choose to contest from Muslim-dominated seats in western UP – Moradabad or Sambhal.

The AIMIM spokesperson said, “Just as Vasudev Shri Krishna had asked for five villages for the Pandavas, similarly Owaisi saheb is asking for only five seats for Dalits, Backwards and Muslims of Uttar Pradesh. If Samajwadi Party gives five seats, it would be great. If not, the INDIA bloc will face consequences.”

Despite being in the opposition, Owaisi is seen as a potential disruptor, with opposition parties often accusing him of being Bharatiya Janata Party’s B team. He obviously eyes political success in UP, given the Muslim population’s prominence, especially in western UP, where it constitutes 26 per cent.

It is to be noted that in 21 Lok Sabha constituencies of UP have over 30 per cent Muslim population, with the 2019 elections seeing 73 per cent of Muslim votes going to the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance and the rest to other parties, including Congress.

Previously, Owaisi had strategically contested the 2017 and 2022 UP assembly elections, gauging the significance of Muslim votes in the region.

With the BSP deciding to go solo for 2024 Lok Sabha elections and Samajwadi Party-Congress together, Owaisi aims to exert pressure on Akhilesh Yadav for maximum number of Lok Sabha seats.  Any independent entry by Owaisi or his party into UP’s political arena is likely to impact the SP-Congress alliance more than others.

The Samajwadi Party has distanced itself from Owaisi, shifting responsibility to the Congress.

SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said, “Akhileshji has already said that Owaisi’s party should discuss an alliance with Congress. Owaisi’s party belongs to Hyderabad. Parties outside Uttar Pradesh should not be part of the INDIA bloc. This decision rests with the Congress.”

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