Mumbai: The All India Majlis-e-Ittihadul Muslimeen, scored a stunning victory in Maharashtra by winning two seats, marking a relatively assured debut in the Maharashtra assembly elections.
In its first attempt to expand outside Hyderabad and have a pan-India presence, the Asaduddin Owaisi-led party bagged the prestigious Byculla seat in Mumbai and the Aurangabad Central and East seats in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
Waris Yusuf Pathan became the party’s first member of the legislative assembly (MLA) in the state when he was declared the winner in Byculla, over rivals Madhu Chavan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and gangster Arun Gawli’s daughter Geeta Gawli of the Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS).
However, the big gain for the AIMIM came in the Aurangabad Central seat, where its candidate, former NDTV journalist Imtiaz Jaleel, defeated sitting Shiv Sena MLA Pradeep Jaiswal by 19,982 votes.
In neighbouring Aurangabad East, the AIMIM’s Abdul Gaffar Quadri led for most of the counting, opening up a lead of nearly 30,000 votes before being upstaged by the BJP’s Atul Save by a slim margin of 4,260 votes. Quadri, too, managed an impressive tally of 60,268 votes.
Aurangabad was a part of Hyderabad state during the Nizam’s rule.
In Nanded South, in the initial rounds of counting, the party’s Moin Mukhtar led the BJP’s Dilip Kandkurte by 4,000 votes, but Kandkurte managed to bounce back. By the end of counting, Mukhtar was relegated to third place, finishing with 34,590 votes. Hemant Patil of the Shiv Sena won the seat. Likewise, in Parbhani, in a riveting battle for second place, the AIMIM’s Syed Khalad Syad Sahebjan finished ahead of the BJP’s Anandrao Bharose by nearly 3,000 votes. Shiv Sena candidate Rahul Patil won the seat.
The AIMIM also managed creditable third place finishes in Nanded North and the four Mumbai-Thane constituencies of Kurla, Mumbra-Kalwa, Versova and Mumbadevi. And, for a party known to represent Muslims, the AIMIM fielded a Hindu candidate in Avinash Barve from Kurla.
Scores of supporters of the party celebrated the victory at Darussalam, the party headquarters in Mumbai. A stream of workers and supporters were seen congratulating the MIM chief and his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi, who aggressively campaigned in Mumbai and parts of Marathwada.
The MIM leaders felt it was a big achievement for the party considering that it did not have any organisational structure in the state and majority of its candidates were political novices.
“It is a good beginning. We will now build on this victory and expand the party to other states,” a senior party leader told the media. He said the results reflect the disillusionment of Muslims with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
“The Congress-NCP alliance was in power for 15 years but did nothing for the development of Muslims. It even failed to protect the community. In fact, Muslim youths were arrested and tortured after blasts in Malegaon in which right-wing fundamentalist groups were involved,” the leader said.
He pointed out that the condition of Muslims, who constitute over 13 percent of the state’s population, went from bad to worse during the last 15 years. “The Muslims were looking for an alternative so that their voice can be heard in the legislature and the MIM provided them the platform,” said another leader.
Focus on other states
Claiming that the poll campaign in Maharashtra witnessed Dalit-Muslim unity, the MP said the party will spread this message to Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and other states.
MIM leader in Telangana assembly, Akbaruddin Owaisi termed the party’s victory Maharashtra as historic. Akbaruddin, who led the poll campaign, said it was for the first time that a party went to another state and won two seats in a short span of 15 days.
He said despite the hurdles created in MIM’s campaign by the police, people backed the party. He assured the people that MIM will work hard to live up to their expectations by raising their voice in the legislature.