Bihar polls: Seemanchal holds the key, Muslim-majority region will decide the final outcome

The region, which is also considered the most backward in Bihar, has a 47% Muslim population and accounts for 24 assembly seats

Bihar polls: Seemanchal holds the key, Muslim-majority region will decide the final outcome
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NH Political Bureau

The Seeemanchal region of Bihar, which comprises Purnia, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria districts, accounting for 24 assembly seats, holds the key to power, say Bihar watchers.

The region, which is also considered the most backward in Bihar, has a 47% Muslim population as against Bihar’s state-wide average of 17%. This makes the region “demographically peculiar” in terms of political behavior, say analysts.

While in Kishanganj, Muslims account for 70% of the population, they comprise 42% of the population in Araria, 43% in Kathihar and 38% in Purnia districts.

In 2015, the region voted for the Grand Alliance. This time, it is however still unclear which direction the region will go as Asaduddin Owaisi’s party AIMIM has fielded candidates in 19 seats, which has made the fight triangular in at least half a dozen seats.

“No other region in Bihar has voted as uni-directionally as this region in the past. In 2015, Seeemanchal voted in favour of the Grand Alliance. If the Owaisi factor works, then the road to power for the Grand Alliance may be difficult,” said a Patna-based observer.

“If Muslims reject AIMIM, as they vote for the party or alliance which could defeat the BJP, victory for the Grand Alliance will be sure and certain,” said the observer

Currently, out of 24 seats, the Congress holds eight, the RJD three and the CPI (ML) one, totalling 12. While Congress has a strong presence in Kishanganj, RJD is dominant in Araria, Purnea and Katihar.

The BJP and the JD (U) hold six seats each. It may be recalled that in 2015, the JD (U), the RJD and the Congress fought together, while the BJP fought with the Lok Janshakti Party and others.

Owasi’s bid to create a shriller Muslim discourse — with attempts to woo Mahadalits to create a social coalition of the “downtrodden” — is not working here, said a Patna-based journalist.

“Muslims do not seem to want to split their vote as this may help the BJP,” said the journalist who runs a local news channel.

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