The Congress party calls AIMIM the BJP’s B-Team and the AIMIM supremo Asaduddin Owaisi has often retaliated that it is the former that has been hand in glove with the ruling party in Gujarat for three decades and so can’t win elections in the State.
But Owaisi’s sudden May 15 visit to Chhapi town in Banaskantha district, which is key to Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani’s Vadgam constituency and this is also why Mevani picked this place to launch Gujarat’s biggest first oxygen plant by an elected legislator in 2021.
Mevani has already joined hands with the Congress and arguably remains the only irritant for the BJP among the three youngsters, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor being the other two, who together reduced the BJP to double-digits, 99 seats, in the 2017 assembly elections.
Thakor had already joined the BJP in 2019 and has been neutralised and now Hardik has quit the Congress heaping full praise for the BJP. Ironically, Patel has in fact become a nuisance value for the Congress party now though he no longer has the stature that he had when he launched the Patidar movement in 2015 through 2017.
This is precisely why Owaisi picking Chhapi to address a function there on his two-day visit on May 14 and May 15 to Gujarat has raised many a political eyebrow. On May 14, he attended an Eid function at Saraspur in Ahmedabad city.
Chhapi town comprises 35% Muslim population and presence of an AIMIM contestant in Vadgam is likely to dent Mevani’s votes as a Congress candidate, as it did in several seats during the February 2021 local body elections. AIMIM snatched seven Muslim-dominated seats from the Congress in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, while it emerged as a kingmaker in Godhra Municipality and picked 24 seats across the State.
Besides this, former Congress MLA Manibhai Vaghela who had to vacate his Vadgam seat to enable the party to prop up Mevani as an Independent candidate in 2017, has joined the BJP and in all likelihood will contest from Vadgam to queer the pitch for the firebrand Dalit youngster.
In 2017, Mevani won the seat with a margin of 19,696 votes with him and BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Chakravarti polling around 95,497 and 75,801 votes respectively. In 2007, when BJP won the seat they won with a margin of 9,705 votes.
So, Owaisi’s decision to stop by this small town with a show of strength, Manibhai Vaghela joining BJP and even the Aam Aadmi Party around this time present a huge challenge for Jignesh Mevani. AAP is not a significant force in the region and generally in rural areas, but it sure would eat into the Congress votes in Vadgam.
When asked about this development, Jignesh Mevani told Vibes of India, “Let him (Owaisi) visit the area, so what? Everyone has a right to go anywhere in this country. I have my strategy. You will see it when time comes.”
With Jignesh making his intentions clear after his release from the Assam jail recently that he was bracing for a big fight. He also used a famous dialogue from the popular recent movie “Pushpa” to say that, “ Main Jhukega nahi sala”.