AIMIM eyes SC seats in Gujarat, but its move will cut into Cong votes

The earlier perception was that the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) would contest only in Muslim-dominated areas of Gujarat to target the Congress’s support. But with its move to field Kaushika Parmar on Ahmedabad’s Danilimda (reserved for Scheduled Castes) seat, it indicates that the party also has its eye on the Congress’s Dalit constituency too.

However, the AIMIM denied any such plans.

“The party is planning to contest 30 Assembly seats that includes Muslims, Dalits, tribal and even general-dominated seats. When a party is in the election fray, it can’t have designed that its candidate will dent X or Y party’s vote bank… people will vote for our party and candidates,” AIMIM spokesman Danish Kureshi told IANS.

There are 13 reserved seats for Scheduled Caste, and in the 2017 elections, the BJP had won seven and the Congress five, while one went to a Congress-supported Independent.

The AIMIM’s fielding of Parmar from Danilimda is an example of how the party is planning to cut into Dalit and Muslim votes in the seat from where Congress’ Sailesh Parmar was elected in the last two elections.

The party has declared candidates for Jamalpur-Khadia, Surat (East), Limbayat, and Bapunagar, and the caste equations suggest its entry into the contest on these seats directly benefits the BJP.

Congress’s Dasada MLA Naushad Solanki said: “We are prepared for this, we were aware in advance that the AAP and the AIMIM will nominate candidates on seats, where Congress is winning since long and BJP can’t make inroads… earlier, they were getting Independent candidates (to stand against Congress), now these are being replaced by the AAP and the AIMIM, but people have realised why these parties are interested in elections, so this strategy to sabotage prospects is not going to work this time.”

A month and half ago, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had addressed a public rally in the Mangrol taluka of Junagadh district, but it seems to have had a little influence on voters. “It is true that good numbers of Muslims has attended the rally, but even if AIMIM fields candidate on Kodinar seat of Gir-Somnath district, it will fail miserably to dent the Congress vote bank,” said sitting Congress MLA Mohanlal Vala.

According to political observers, the AIMIM can field its candidate on Scheduled Caste reserved seats like Gadhada, Asarva, Vadgam, Kadi, Gandhidham, and Vadodara city, where the BJP feels there is a tough fight. To divide Muslim votes, it will nominate candidates on Bhuj, Abdasa, Mandvi, Jamnagar rural, Mangrol, Junagadh, Dhoraji, Umreth Khambhaliya, Somnath, Surat-West, Bharuch, and Jambusar seats.

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