All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi has decided to support Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in the upcoming assembly elections in Assam.

Owaisi said he had maintained from the beginning that he would not contest the Assam polls to “prevent division of Muslim votes”.

The Hyderabad MP, who had earlier received flak from the Congress for his move to fight Bihar elections, also expressed his willingness to campaign for AIUDF candidates. The Congress had alleged that there was a “nexus” between Owaisi and the BJP to divide the Muslim votes in Seemanchal region of the state.

“My main aim to contest Bihar elections was to highlight the extreme backwardness of Seemanchal region. Who is responsible for that? The same people who have exploited the Muslims in the name of secularism,” he said. “I have absolutely no regrets. I will continue to visit Bihar, especially Seemanchal.”

There had been intense speculation about Owaisi’s plan to contest Assam polls after he visited the state in September 2012 following communal clashes in the Bodo belt. Muslims constitute about 30% of the total electorate in Assam and Owaisi’s move is expected to help Ajmal consolidate his vote-bank though the MIM chief is not an influential player in state politics.

Considered a Hyderabad-based party in the past, the MIM has been open about its expansion plans. After his party won two seats in 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections, Owaisi also tried his luck in Bihar polls but was rejected by the voters in the face of the resurgence of grand alliance led by Nitish Kumar. His party even failed to register a win in Bengaluru civic polls.

“I am under tremendous pressure from my party workers and supporters to contest assembly elections in West Bengal…. We haven’t yet taken any decision on it,” he said.

Owaisi also said he has no plans to “venture” into Kerala in the immediate future but insisted that his main target is 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections in which the MIM would field “significant number of candidates”.

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