After his party's good showing in the recently-concluded Bihar assembly polls, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi is looking to gain a foothold in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh where he met Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, a former Bharatiya Janata Party ally, in Lucknow on Wednesday.
"We got a lot of confidence from our success in Bihar, and we will continue that momentum," Owaisi told reporters after their meeting in Lucknow.
Rajbhar said, "Till yesterday, people used to say that OP Rajbhar is all alone, and what can he do? Now, why are they feeling the pain? Now, Owaisiji has come, we will show our power to the heavyweight," he said.
Referring to the Bhaagidaari Sankalp Morcha, a front of smaller parties in the state formed about a year ago, Rajbhar said, "we will contest the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections together."
Besides SBSP, the Bhaagidaari Sankalp Morcha, former Bahujan Samaj Party leader Babu Singh Kushwaha's Jan Adhikar Party, Babu Ram Pal-led Rashtra Uday Party, Anil Singh Chauhan-led Janta Kranti Party and Premchand Prajapati-led Rashtriya Upekshit Samaj Party.
The Owaisi-Rajbhar meeting comes a day after the Aam Aadmi Party announced that it will contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls in 2022.
In the recently concluded Bihar elections, the AIMIM won five seats (it contested 20) in the Muslims-dominated Seemanchal region on the border of West Bengal.
"Rajbhar ji too has a role in the success we got in Bihar. We are part of the Grand Democratic Secular Alliance. We got a lot of confidence from the success in Bihar, and we will continue that momentum," Owaisi said.
When asked if it is necessary for smaller parties to come together to take on the BJP, Rajbhar, said, "We have formed the Bhaagidaari Sankalp Morcha to ensure our victory. We are fighting for education, health and jobs."
Asked about rivals' constant attack on the Owaisi-led party by calling it a vote-splitter, Rajbhar said, "We want that Owaisiji splits the votes of his community, Rajbhar splits those of his, and Krishna Patel (of Apna Dal) of her community. Let these all votes get accumulated and ensure our win."
Meanwhile, Owaisi also hit out at Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee over her comments on Tuesday that the BJP was allegedly trying to import the AIMIM to that state to sharpen the communal polarisation and divide the Hindu-Muslim votes among themselves.
He said Banerjee was part of the BJP-led NDA when the 2002 Gujarat riots happened.
"Till now Mamata Banerjee has only met obedient Mir Jaffers (who betrayed Nawab Siraj-ud-Daullah) and Mir Sadiqs (who allegedly betrayed Tipu Sultan during the Siege of Seringapatam, paving the way for a British victory). She is yet to come face-to-face with a good Muslim, and it will happen," Owaisi said.