Will Owaisi-Ambedkar alliance in Maharashtra benefit the BJP?

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2018 09:24 hrs
Owaisi Ambedkar

Asaduddin Owaisi’s move in Maharashtra has baffled many. His alliance with Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar has come as a rude shock to many who were expecting Ambedkar to ally with the Congress-NCP alliance to take on the BJP and Shiv Sena alliance in the crucial state.

Maharashtra, with its 48 Lok Sabha seats, is very important for the ruling and the opposition alliances. Given the fact that elections, now a days, are won and lost on wafer thin margins as we witnessed in Karnataka assembly elections earlier this year, Prakash Karat and Asaduddin Owaisi alliance is going to pose a tough challenge for Congress and Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

There is no denying that All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Prakash Ambedkar alliance has come a as a blot from blue for the secular Congress-NCP alliance.

Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) includes numerous small, Dalits other tribal groups.

Representatives of various Dalit groups, backward classes and tribes have launched the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), a political alliance under the leadership of Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar. At the time of the launch of the VBA, it had made it apparently clear that it will fight elections on all the 48 Lok Sabha seats across Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha election next year. The Congress was expecting to placate Prakash Ambedkar to ally the outfit with the formidable Congress-NCP alliance.

There is no denying that Maharashtra is very crucial for the looming electoral mahabharatha in the year 2019. General elections are set to be held merely a few months after the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh later this year. Assembly elections in the three states are being called the mini general elections that are set to reflect the mood of the nation, especially North India, that has become the citadel of saffron upsurge over the past two decades.

The latest pre-poll surveys conducted by ABP News-CVoter and C fore have made the ruling BJP very jittery in Center and the states about the outcome of not just these elections but also Lok Sabha polls too. Congress is expected to return back to power due to anti-incumbency factor against Vasundhra Raje Scindia government in Rajasthan. Two recent surveys conducted by agencies have shown the Congress party to garner as much as fifty percent vote share in the poll-bound state. BJP is set to be decimated by effective poll strategy of the Congress and close alliance between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Ghelot, who is emerging as the Congress’ response to Amit Shah of the BJP.

The picture in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh is also not very different. Both the surveys have predicted the Congress to win the two states, beating the BJP by a smaller margin.

Nonetheless, even small mistakes can prove fatal and upset the political arithmetic not just in the forthcoming assembly elections, but also in the General Elections next year. Congress knows it far too well. It has been wary of Asaduddin Owaisi not just in Telangana and Andhra, but also in Bihar, Maharashtra and UP, where he has tried to establish his base. To many political analysts, it is very surprising for the AIMIM to set up bases in other states, while limiting himself to Hyderabad in Telangana.

If people had any doubt about Owaisi’s intentions, it was cleared when he launched a blistering attack against the Congress party and its leadership, notwithstanding the fact the Congress neither rules the state, nor the Center. While addressing a rally jointly organized by his party and Prakash Ambedkar in Aurangabad last week, where Dalits and backward castes made the majority of the audience, he said "On the one side, you have Narendra Modi and on the other, the party that has Brahmin blood in its DNA. Where will you, vanchit bahujan samaj go?”.

It was not the only thing directed against the Congress. He also called India’s grand old party a janeu-dhari (sacred thread wearing) party’’. This was a well-thought out strategy to infuriate the lower caste and tribal population and pit them against the Congress party. Owaisi, who has mastered the art of swaying the gathering to his tunes, showed his brilliance with the words. He told the gathering how the Congress had failed Baba Saheb Ambedkar, insulting him time and again merely because of him being a Dalit. While there may be some truth to his allegations, the Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad knew how to develop a chord with the audience, most of whom were not Muslims, his core support base.

By clinching the alliance with Owaisi’s AIMIM, Prakash Ambedkar seems to have lost all the hopes of being a part of the Congress-NCP alliance. While its importance cannot be underestimated, it will have more of a nuisance value and will not be able to win a single seat.

There is a perception that Asaduddin Owaisi and his firebrand brother Akbaruddin Owaisi’s presence helps the BJP in different parts of the country. Some people claim that the AIMIM enters the state where there is direct fight between the Congress and the BJP to help the saffron camp and that it has not gone to places where the BJP faces other adversaries like West Bengal and Assam. Soroor Ahmd, a political analyst says, “Owaisi brothers are out to queer the pitch for secular parties across the country. Their presence would help the saffron party”.

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