Malegaon: The Muslim leadership crisis is global, and one of the reasons cited for the dismal condition of the community across the world is absence of a true leader. But here is a candidate who is contesting the 2014 Maharashtra elections not only to lead the people in his constituency but also the Muslims in the entire state.
Asif Shaikh (42), the president of Malegaon Congress Committee, ex-Mayor and son of two-time Congress MLA Shaikh Rasheed, is contesting the election from Malegaon (Central) assembly seat. His pitted against NCP's Mufti Ismael, the sitting MLA and ex-Mayor and MIM candidate Abdul Malik.
As Mayor of the Malegaon Municipal Corporation and now as the president of the Malegaon Congress Committee, he claims to have worked on many important projects.He says his works are enough to convince the people of the constituency to vote and send him to the state assembly.
He also says a berth in the state assembly will speed up the important projects he is already working on for the welfare of people in his constituency. However, he says, he is worried about the Muslims in the entire state.
Asif Shaikh rose to fame and proved his leadership when he walked on foot in 2013 from Malegaon to Mumbai demanding reservation for the Muslims. In the run-up to garner support for the 300-km long 'Paidal March', he had criss-crossed the entire state and met people especially Muslims I many rural areas.
"My position as leader of the Congress party in Malegaon is powerful enough to fight for the rights of the people in this textile city. However, who will represent the Muslims especially those living in the rural and backward areas of the state?" he asked while talking to ummid.com.
He says there are a vast majority of Muslims, about 70%, in the state who are living in totally inhuman condition.
"This lot needs a strong voice in the state assembly. The attention of the leaders and ministers who claim to be their representatives are just focused on metropolitan and big cities", he says.
He says Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman Committee has most accurately judged the status of Muslims in Maharashtra, and has also recommended important corrective measures.
"If elected, I will surely work with the government for the implementation of the recommendations made by Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman Committee", he says.
He also says that he is contesting the election with a determined view, and he will never contest the elections again if he fails to deliver.
"I have made promises that I am sure I will be able to fulfil. If I fail to deliver, I will never contest an election", he says.
Asif Shaikh's ambition to lead the Muslims of Maharashtra has not gone down well with some of the Muslim leaders in the Congress. It is learnt that a senior Muslim leader, who is also a minister and claims to be the sole leader of the community, tried hard to convince the party high command not to give party ticket to Asif Shaikh.
Party insiders say, the minister was lobbying for the induction of sitting MLA Mufti Ismael into the Congress. He however could not get enough support among his colleagues, and Mufti finally joined the NCP.