Owaisi says he came to U.P. to win hearts

AIMIM looks at stitching alliances, holds talks with OBC leader Om Prakash Rajbhar, praises Shivpal Yadav

After winning five seats in Bihar, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has set its sights on stitching alliances in Uttar Pradesh as its president Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday held talks with Other Backward Class (OBC) leader Om Prakash Rajbhar here, and praised Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav.

Mr. Owaisi met Mr. Rajbhar, president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), who is a former State Cabinet minister and BJP ally-turned-rebel.

The Hyderabad MP said that he had joined the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha, a front of half-a-dozen smaller parties in U.P., including the SBSP and former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) minister Babu Singh Kushwaha’s outfit, the Jan Adhikar Party.

“I have not come here to change names. I am here to win hearts,” Mr. Owaisi said at a joint press conference with Mr. Rajbhar. He was taking a dig at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s statements in favour of changing the name of Hyderabad.

Responding to a question that Opposition parties contended a vote split would benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if the AIMIM contested, Mr. Owaisi said that even when his party did not contest in the Lok Sabha poll, the BJP won many seats.

The AIMIM leaders also said that he would meet Shivpal Yadav, president of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) and take things forward.

“We must accept that janaab Shivpal sahab is a big face in U.P. politics and has great experience,” Mr. Owaisi said.

Asked if it was necessary for all Opposition parties in U.P. to come together to challenge the BJP, Mr. Owaisi said he was doing his bit. “The other bigger parties would have to answer this question,” he said.

Mr. Rajbhar, who holds sway among the Rajbhar OBC community in eastern U.P., said the constituents of the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha would contest the 2022 Assembly elections in U.P. together.

Asked by a reporter for his view on the allegations levelled against Mr. Owaisi that he was working as a “B-team” of the BJP, Mr. Rajbhar defended the Hyderabad MP by targeting the other Opposition parties. “In U.P., the SP is the B-team [of BJP], the BSP is the C-team and the Congress is the D-team,” he said.

Mr. Owaisi said the parties would work “under the leadership” of Mr. Rajbhar.

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