Published On: Thu, Mar 2nd, 2023

The AIMIM expansion in question 

AIMIM president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi during the 1st mational convention of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen at Mahape in Navi Mumbai on February 25, 2023.

AIMIM president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi during the 1st mational convention of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen at Mahape in Navi Mumbai on February 25, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

On February 25, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) had its first-ever two-day national conference. The move came days ahead of the 65th anniversary of what the AIMIM calls the party’s revival, where it resolved to embark on a nationwide expansion. The National Convention in Mumbai entailed closed-door deliberations with its two members of Parliament, over 1,000 office bearers and corporators.

On the final day, the AIMIM released a list of 16 resolutions, including its “national agenda”, that seeks to expand the party’s presence across the country, and to continue the legacy of Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, a former parliamentarian and sitting Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi’s father, and “past leadership”, which invariably includes the latter’s grandfather, Abdul Wahed Owaisi, who is credited with the “revival” of the party. 

Also read | How the AIMIM could play spoilsport for the BRS and the Congress

The sequence of events — the National Convention followed by the revival day  scheduled on March 2 — bears significance. The party, while holding onto its politics shaped by Sultan Salahuddin, who began his political innings as a corporator to legislator and finally a Member of Parliament, all along laying the AIMIM’s groundwork, is looking into the future; a party which is far more organised, considers itself to be speaking about not only for Muslims but also other marginalised communities, including Dalits; and perhaps in the long run, a change in the party’s status to that of a national party.

“The AIMIM also resolves to use local, state and national elections as a means to bring the minorities and other marginalised groups into the mainstream,” an excerpt from the list of resolutions read. As of now, the party has nine legislators from Telangana, two from Maharashtra and one from Bihar.

Apart from the Assembly polls, the party has been focussing on local bodies as well in many States. For instance, it has registered victories in local body polls in Gujarat, such as in Modasa where it sits in the opposition. The party has elected representatives in bodies in Godhra and Bharouch. Though these may seem as relatively smaller victories, partymen believe that they do count as building blocks of a larger edifice. A presence has to be built from the ground up, they say. Apart from creating leadership from these States, the primary face would be Mr. Owaisi’s. The party has formed its committees in over a dozen States, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. 

The Hyderabad parliamentarian, on many occasions, has asserted that a leadership from within the States has to be created, all the while assuring people that he would stand with them. Mr. Owaisi is well aware of the caste and  baradari dynamics among the Muslim communities of States where these identities are pronounced. He has spoken against the oppression of the  pasmanda Muslims at a time when there are sections in the Muslim community who maintain caste does not exist either in Islam, or among Muslims, or both. 

But there are challenges that the party faces. The first, and oft-reiterated allegation is that of cleaving the Muslim vote resulting in a setback to parties who stand in opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Also read | MIM talks of increasing its strength in Assembly

Stung by these allegations, Mr. Owaisi has sought to refute them time and again by citing polling figures which show otherwise, or by stating that the party has simply not contested in certain constituencies where other parties have lost. Despite this, the perception battle is still underway and appears to show no signs of a ceasefire.

The party’s plans for its expansion in Telangana, which is likely to go to polls this December, continue to remain unclear. AIMIM floor leader Akbaruddin Owaisi had triggered a political flutter in the Telangana Legislative Assembly during an exchange with Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister K.T. Ramarao, where he retorted that he would confer with the party president Asaduddin Owaisi and field candidates on 50 seats. The party president, on the other hand, remained non-committal.

So, will the AIMIM’s plans to increase its presence across the country include an aggressive expansion on its home turf? With Mr. Owaisi remaining tight-lipped, only time will tell.

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