Asaduddin Owaisi’s Majlis Ittehadu Muslimeen (AIMIM) might have never got a better gift well before UP elections. Shafiqur Rahman Barq, a veteran politician of western UP joined the Hyderabad strongman’s party recently. He was unhappy with the Samajwadi Party for denying ticket to his grandson and thus approached MIM and joined it.
While it is unclear as to how much this political mileage will translate into votes in the forthcoming UP election 2017, there is no denying that it will bring a sort of legitimacy and acceptance to his party in UP.
The 86-year old Shafiqur Rahman Barq who first became the member of UP assembly in the year 1974 is a big name in his part of the world. He has been steadily getting Muslim votes and being elected to assembly and then Parliament. To be true, his appeal among Muslim voters has never diminished due to his occasional controversial comments that he makes. While he may not be as big a factor as he was a few years ago, he certainly has pockets of influence that may benefit the firebrand Owaisi in UP. Barq has been a member of the 11th, 12th, 14th & 15th Lok Sabhas of India. During 14th Lok Sabha, before completing his term Barq resigned from his post in Apr 2009 on the issue of singing Vande Matram.
Despite Sambhal area having a large Muslim population, Asaduddin Owaisi’s Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen didn’t get many supporters in this part of the state. On the contrary, his efforts to reach out to masses, again Muslims, were frustrated. With his arrival in the party, Owaisi will definitely expand his reach in an area that resembles his bastion in Hyderabad in many ways.
Similar grouses may drive more politicians to MIM
In a politically fluid situation prior to the assembly elections, many established politicians and their close relatives are expected to be denied tickets in different political parties. Now MIM may be an option for them too. Barq had expressed displeasure at his grandson being denied the ticket for Sambhal assembly seat, which had instead been given to five-term SP MLA and state cabinet minister Iqbal Mehmood. Barq, a prominent leader of Turk Muslims in the region, announced that his grandson Ziaur Rahman Barq will contest from Sambhal seat on an AIMIM ticket against SP candidate Iqbal Mehmood, triggering mass defection from SP ranks and a crisis in the party in the region. This is going to bring rich dividends to the nascent party from South India.
Bring trained political cadre to MIM
The sort of desertions that have been seen from the Samajwadi party in the wake of Barq exit make it clear that Owaisi’s party will get many old political hands who have good knowledge of the area and political realities. Barq was sure of getting a seat for his grandson and was shocked when it didn’t happen. Says he “I was in Lucknow recently where I was assured by SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav as well as chief minister Akhilesh Yadav that my grandson will be given the party ticket from Sambhal. But eventually, the name of Iqbal Mehmood was announced. I have now decided to show my power to MSY on all the seats of Moradabad. I will extensively campaign for all candidates of AIMIM in the region and expose the scams committed during the SP rule.”
Owaisi may get a foothold in the region
Though it is unclear as to how many people will follow his call, but Barq is expected to give a foothold to the Owaisi’s party in this part of UP. Barq is trying to show his relevance in politics to his detractors in SP and other parties to give him good publicity. Recently he called a meeting of all his supporters from all the seats in the region and told them about his decision to quit the SP. He appealed to the people to ensure that the SP candidates in Moradabad region bite the dust in the upcoming polls. Many other SP supporters led by Musheer Chowdhry also joined AIMIM later at Barq’s house. The former MP is set to file his nomination papers on January 25. Stay tuned for more updates.