On paper and on the ground, they’re poles apart; even sworn enemies. But has Gujarat brought together – or rather, exposed – the BJP and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM’s secret mutual admiration club? This is certainly what the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are claiming.
The AIMIM has made a steady progress in Gujarat. In the 2019 civic elections in Ahmedabad, the party saw seven of its candidates emerging victorious. In last year’s civic body polls in Godhra, AIMIM won eight seats in a 44-body council. In Modasa, it has emerged as the principal opposition party in the civic body with nine seats, and has one a seat in Bharuch Municipal Council (BMC) as well.
The drama began with the AIMIM’s Gujarat head Sabir Kabliwala admitting to have met BJP leader and Ahmedabad Mayor Kirit Parmar not once, but on several occasions. Kabliwala claimed the meeting was in “public interest”.
When asked to explain the secret meetings with Parmar or whether there was any sort of an ‘understanding’ between the BJP and the AIMIM regarding the Gujarat Assembly elections, Kabliwala flatly denied such an arrangement.
He said that he had taken up the matter of textile mill workers with the Mayor. “For the past eight months, around 1.5 lakh mill workers have been sitting at home without work. The high court had ruled that textile mills can reopen after a waste treatment plant was installed. Our party’s stand was that the treatment plant should be opened before the election code of conduct comes into effect, hence I had been meeting the mayor,” he said.
Kabliwala said that the plan was to inaugurate the treatment plant on October 30. “There is some work left before the plant is ready. Absolutely no political discussions took place between the Mayor and I. My photo with the Mayor which has gone viral has been conveniently cropped to suit some people’s political agenda,” he said.
AAP, CONGRESS SMELL CONSPIRACY
The AAP’s Gujarat chief, Gopal Italia, who has been at the receiving end of the BJP and the Delhi Police over his tweets on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tweeted in Hindi: “Yesterday, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s BJP Mayor Kirit Parmar and BJP leader Dharmendra Shah went to AIMIM officer, where they met AIMIM Gujarat chief Sabir Kabliwala. Yeh rishta kya kehlata hain?”
Italia’s party colleague and Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, also at the receiving end of the law enforcement agencies, tweeted in Hindi: “What is going on? BJP and AIMIM in a secret meeting? BJP should tell the nation what is the deal between the two.”
The Congress’ Gujarat spokesperson, Manish Doshi, said that it was “open secret that AIMIM is BJP’s B team”. He said, “All opposition leaders are being raided by the Central agencies such as the ED and the Income-Tax Department. But till date, no raids have taken place at Owaisi’s residence or office. The Gujarat government gives VIP treatment to him. AIMIM gets all permissions for rallies, etc while the Congress workers are arrested. Isn’t their relation obvious?”