The Congress in Karnataka has alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made a pre-poll arrangement with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). Asaduddin Owaisi's party, the Congress suspects, will field candidates to divide Muslim votes- traditionally a Congress vote bank in Karnataka.
Senior Congress leader and Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Monday alleged that the BJP is attempting an Uttar Pradesh-like strategy to divide Muslim votes in Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018. "AIMIM contested UP elections on BJP's insistence to divide Muslim votes. They will do the same here," he said.
The AIMIM's venture into Karnataka electoral politics is expected to eat into Congress' vote share that draws its support from AHINDA (an acronym for Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits) of which Muslims form a huge chunk. The Congress alleges that the BJP has arrived at a secret pact with Owaisi's party to ensure victory in seats- especially in communally sensitive coastal Karnataka- where the party lost with thin margins last time.
The BJP, while rejecting Congress' claims, has, in turn, accused the ruling party of joining hands with Popular Front of India's (PFI) political wing (Social Democratic Party of India) SDPI. "The Congress is spooked that half of the Muslim population- the women- will vote for BJP just like they did in Uttar Pradesh thanks to Triple Talaq. They are, hence, making baseless allegations of a secret pact," said Malavika Avinash, spokesperson, BJP Karnataka. She reiterated that the party would return to power with a majority and hence was not in need of an alliance with AIMIM or any other outfit.
AIMIM's chief Owaisi announced the party's intentions of contesting in Karnataka assembly elections 2018 last year. The party hopes to field candidates in 60 of the 224 constituencies. AIMIM's leaders in Karnataka told OneIndia that the party is in the process of identifying candidates and a list is likely to be made public in February.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|