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No guarantee that Nitish won't return to NDA: Owaisi

AIMIM chief dismisses allegations of becoming BJP's B-team

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi | PTI AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi | PTI

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday repudiated allegations of becoming the "B Team" of the BJP in Bihar, where candidates fielded by his party have cut into "secular votes", resulting in the defeat of the ruling Mahagathbandhan.

The Hyderabad MP, who is touring the Seemanchal region of Bihar, also mocked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's anti-BJP posturing, with the remark "there is no guarantee that he will not make yet another volte-face and return to the NDA".

The firebrand leader responded to queries of journalists in course of his visit to Kishanganj and Purnea districts, where he addressed small rallies at street corners (nukkad sabha), picking up the threads from the setback suffered two years ago when all but one of AIMIM's five MLAs in Bihar jumped ship and joined the RJD.

His attention was drawn to the defeat of the Mahagathbandhan in the bypoll to Gopalganj assembly seat which the coalition comprising RJD, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), Congress and Left has blamed on the split in votes caused by the AIMIM.

The RJD had put up a good fight in the BJP stronghold but lost by a slender margin of less than 2,000 votes. The AIMIM candidate had finished third, polling more than 12,000 votes.

However, Owaisi pointed out that the pitch was queered in no small measure by Mayawati's BSP, which had given ticket to Indira Yadav, wife of Sadhu Yadav whose sister Rabri Devi is a former CM and married to RJD president Lalu Prasad. Indira Yadav had polled more than 8,000 votes.

"Apne saale ko toh rok nahin paaye (Lalu could not rein in the brother of his own wife)," remarked Owaisi with trademark causticity and added, "These people do not have it in them to take on the BJP but seek to make us a scapegoat."

"In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, we contested only Kishanganj seat in Bihar. Though we polled more than three lakh votes, the seat went to the Congress. Across the country, we contested a total of three Lok Sabha seats. It is preposterous to blame us for the BJP getting a 300 plus tally," he said.

He also made light of Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav calling Kumar a "PM material" with the tongue in cheek remark, "They (RJD, to which Yadav belongs) had given the nickname 'palturam' (turncoat) to Nitish Kumar when he had first ditched them to join hands with the BJP. Who can guarantee he will not do so again?".

Owaisi's speeches were full of vitriol for "char gaddar" (four traitors) who won in the 2020 assembly polls on AIMIM tickets, only to jump ship two years later. He also blamed Kumar and RJD, together, for the split in AIMIM in Bihar with the use of money.

Notably, the split had taken place while Kumar was still in the NDA and RJD was in the opposition.

With trademark irreverence, Owaisi also said, "Nitish Kumar calls us a party of only Muslims. You may be the chief minister but have yourself never been able to go beyond your base of Kushwahas and Kurmis."

"You ('tu') shall also be always remembered as the man who helped the BJP become the power that it is. Gujarat was burning in 2002 and you quietly enjoyed sharing power with them," said the AIMIM chief, referring to the communal conflagration during which Kumar was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry.

Pointing out Kumar's failure to ensure that no Muslim was lynched in Bihar, Owaisi also alleged that having aligned with the BJP in July, 2017, Kumar also "shares the blame" for horrific violence by cow vigilantes that took place earlier in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

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