Communal passion may influence the voting pattern in the minority dominated Seemanchal areas of Bihar where All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the Shiv Sena will contest 25 and 30 seats, respectively.

In the last elections, the Shiv Sena contested from 31 seats and got 3% of the votes. Seemanchal region, which includes Purnia, Araria, Katihar and Kishanganj, is close to West Bengal and Nepal and is Muslim dominated.

Kishanganj has 70% Muslim population. Out of the four Lok Sabha seats in this region, three were won by Muslim candidates in the 2014 general elections.

Political analysts feel that with both AIMIM and Shiv Sena in the fray in this region, the polarisation of voters cannot be ruled out.

“Even during the Narendra Modi wave of 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party was not able to win in this region. The 25 seats that come under the Seemanchal region have traditionally voted for the Congress, Janata Dal United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Communal passions may dominate the region this time with AIMIM and Shiv Sena in the fray,” a professor of political science in Patna University said.

State president of AIMIM, Akhtarul Imam said that the party is yet to select its candidates.

“We are still in the process of identifying the seats and the candidates. The process will be completed within a week,” he said.

The AIMIM earlier rejected RJD’s offer to contest the elections as a part of the Grand Alliance.

The Election Commission has asked the district collectors and the police superintendent to keep a close eye on the conduct of the candidates and prevent anyone from fanning communal tensions in the region.

“Both AIMIM and the Shiv Sena are known for their vitriolic speeches, which may ignite communal tensions in the region. We have asked the district officials to keep a very close watch till the elections are over, and take strict action against anyone who violates the code of conduct,” an Election Commission official said.

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