One of the surprise packages in the Bihar Assembly elections has been the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which won five seats in the Seemanchal region.
However, the AIMIM's success also came with accusations that it has served as 'BJP's B-Team' and caused the defeat of Mahagathbandhan candidates in a number of seats. Several people on social media even claimed that AIMIM has enabled NDA to win as many as 10 seats.
Why is a Party Accused of Being a Vote-Cutter?
Basically, a party is accused of becoming a vote-cutter if it secures more votes than the margin of defeat in a particular seat and if its base is similar to that of the defeated candidate.
For instance, LJP chief Chirag Paswan openly said that his aim was to defeat the JD(U).
In 33 seats, it was found that the LJP polled more votes than the JD(U)'s margin of defeat. Since the LJP fielded a number of candidates with a BJP background, this was considered a way of preventing the transfer of BJP votes to its alliance partner, the JD(U).
So has the AIMIM done the same to the Mahagathbandhan?
The assumption is that since the AIMIM mostly raises Muslims’ concerns, it is targeting Muslim votes that have been the vote bank of parties like the RJD and the Congress.
This article will try to answer this question by examining the AIMIM's performance in the 20 seats it contested and whether it polled more votes than the Mahagathbandhan's margin of defeat.
Three Types of AIMIM Seats
AIMIM's 20 seats can be divided into three types of seats.
Seats won by AIMIM (5): Amour, Baisi, Kochadhaman, Bahadurganj and Jokihat.
Seats won by Mahagathbandhan (9): Araria, Kasba, Kishanganj, Manihari, Phulwari, Sahebpur Kamal, Sherghati, Sikta, Thakurganj
Seats won by NDA (6): Barari, Chhatapur, Narpatganj, Pranpur, Raniganj, Sahebganj.
Now the seats won by the Mahagathbandhan or the AIMIM itself are constituencies where NDA was defeated, so there is no question of the AIMIM helping NDA win here.
So our focus should be on the 6 seats that the NDA won. Let's look at the NDA's margin of victory and the votes polled by AIMIM.
‘Spoiler’ Argument Works Only in One Seat
- NDA's Victory Margin: 10,438
- Votes Polled by AIMIM: 6,598
- NDA's Victory Margin: 20,635
- Votes Polled by AIMIM: 1,990
- NDA's Victory Margin: 28,610
- Votes Polled by AIMIM: 9,495
- NDA's Victory Margin: 2,972
- Votes Polled by AIMIM: 508
- NDA's Victory Margin: 2,304
- Votes Polled by AIMIM: 2,412
- NDA's Victory Margin: 15,333
- Votes Polled by AIMIM: 4,055
Therefore, we can see that only in one seat did the AIMIM poll more votes than the NDA's margin of victory - Raniganj in Araria district.
This is a seat reserved for SC candidates and the AIMIM had fielded a 37-year-old Dalit woman Roshan Devi. The seat was won by JD(U)'s Achmit Rishidev who defeated the RJD's Avinash Manglam by 2,304 votes. Roshan Devi polled 2,412 which is 108 votes more than the JD(U)'s victory margin.
This is the only seat where AIMIM can be accused of contributing the NDA's victory, that too only if one assumes that the party's entire vote would have otherwise gone to the MGB.
This assumption may also be questioned as in many seats the AIMIM has gained due to the shift of JD(U)'s Muslim voters. For instance, Jokihat was one of JD(U)'s few Muslim bastions and the party had been undefeated from it since 2005. Similarly, the JD(U) also won Kochadhaman in a 2014 bypoll and in 2015.