The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) on Thursday announced that the party would be contesting seven municipal bodies in the State.
Apart from the municipal council of Khargone, a district that witnessed communal riots in April, the party will field its candidates in Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Burhanpur, Ratlam and Khandwa, said AIMIM national chief Asaduddin Owaisi. The party is banking on a significant Muslim population in these areas.
AIMIM’s Madhya Pradesh working president Naeem Ansari was quoted as saying that while it would field candidates for councillor posts in these elections, it was also likely to field a mayoral candidate for the municipal corporation from Burhanpur.
Burhanpur is a Muslim-dominated city with approximately 50.53% of the city’s population following Islam as their religion, according to the 2011census. However, the party’s Bhopal unit chief Tahir Anwar said it could field a mayoral candidate from Bhopal too. In these elections, mayors will be elected directly by the voters while election of the president in the Nagar Panchayat and City Council will be done through the elected councillors.
‘Unlikely to make dent’
While Dr. Ansari said the AIMIM was emerging as a third alternative in the State as the “people were fed up with the BJP and the Congress”, both the parties insisted the AIMIM was unlikely to make a major dent in the largely bipolar politics of the State. In the past, though other parties have fielded candidates, only a few have been successful and that too because of the candidates more than a symbol. This time around, even the Aam Aadmi Party has expressed its willingness to contest the polls.
In another development, the Congress on Thursday evening announced the names of 15 mayoral candidates.
On the party’s prospects of losing minority votes to the AIMIM, Madhya Pradesh Congress Media Department president K.K. Mishra called the AIMIM the ‘B-team’ of the BJP. He said the Muslims of the State are intelligent and would not become a puppet in the hands of the AIMIM , even as the AIMIM’s Bhopal unit head Tahir Anwar insisted that the “groundwork done by the AIMIM since 2014 will help us reap dividends”.
Dismissing Congress’ allegations, BJP spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said, “The Congress is preparing excuses as it is going to lose. The BJP is only banking on development. And as far as elections are concerned, anyone is welcome to contest”.
Another Congress leader acknowledged that in cities like Indore or Bhopal, where councillors win or lose by margins as small as 25 to 30 votes, a newcomer like the AIMIM is sure to pose some selection headaches.
Earlier, Dr. Ansari while targeting the Congress and the BJP said that the people of Madhya Pradesh are not happy with them and are looking for a third option. He said the AIMIM has been preparing to enter the political arena in M.P. since 2015. The number of party members in the State now is more than two lakh. The party does not even have a full-time State unit president.