The Tamil Nadu unit of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen said that the party will contest about 25-30 seats in the southern state, The News Minute reported on Wednesday. The state is slated to go to polls in 2021.

Vakeel Ahmed, the president of AIMIM’s Tamil Nadu unit, told the news website that the party was carrying out a survey in the state ahead of the elections. “A survey is underway to identify where all we can fight and win,” he said. “We will contest approximately 25 to 30 seats. In north Tamil Nadu, we have a stronghold. In Madurai, Krishnagiri, Vellore and Tirupattur we are getting good support. We had contested from the Vaniyambadi seat last time.”

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, however, said the party has not finalised the number of seats it will be contesting as yet. On political alliance in the state, Owaisi said, “The political equations in the state will be decided by the state unit of the party.”

Ahmed told The Hindu that he has spoken to Duraimurugan, the general secretary of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, about a possible alliance but haven’t heard back from him. “If the DMK loses, they should not blame us,” he said.

The state unit president also said that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was not even an option for partnering up for the polls as it was in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party. “A third front is also a possibility,” he said. “We are in talks, everything will be revealed at the right time.”

The AIMIM had performed remarkably well in the recently-concluded Bihar Assembly elections, winning five crucial Muslim-dominated constituencies – Baisi, Amour, Kochadhaman, Bahadurganj and Jokihat. It had contested in 20 seats.

Ahmed said that Muslims have started to realise that there is a need for a pan-India leadership to represent the community. “When every community in India wants a political leader for themselves, why shouldn’t the Muslim community desire a national leader to represent its interests?” he asked.

On criticism that the AIMIM will help the BJP by splitting Muslim votes as there is already political parties representing the community in southern states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Ahmed slammed both the BJP and the Congress.

“The BJP is the enemy that we can see eye to eye,” he said. “The Congress stabs us in the back. The protests against the CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act], the NRC[National Register of Citizens], the NPR [National Population Register] and [the dilution of] Article 370 were held mainly by Muslims. The Congress did not mobilise people. It only opposed them in Parliament.

On the vote-splitting charges, Owaisi said that the party gets blamed for anything it does. “Getting blamed is not at all an issue for me,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see what unfolds with respect to any alliance.”