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Mumbai: Congress which has set its eyes on wresting the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Asia's largest civic body, from the Shiv Sena-BJP in the 2012 is alarmed by the possible Muslim support to Raj Thackeray-led MNS.
The meeting of prominent Muslim clerics here with MNS president Raj Thackeray on the occasion of his birthday last month has sent alarm bells ringing in the Congress.
Just like elsewhere in the country, Congress sources said, Muslims and Dalit support is crucial for the party here.
At least 12-14 Assembly segments out of the total 36 in Mumbai have a considerable Muslim voter population.
There are 10 corporators belonging to the Congress who are Muslims, out of which two -- Amin Patel and Aslam Sheikh - were elected to the Legislative Assembly.
In the 227 member civic body, the Congress has 76 corporators with two co-opted members. The Muslim population in Mumbai is estimated to be over 25 lakh.
"The meeting of Muslim clerics with Raj Thackeray and presenting him with a copy of the Marathi translation of Holy Quran is not a minor issue and the Congress leadership has taken it very seriously," Congress sources said.
However, MNS says it is not amused that the Congress is alarmed at the development.
Vageesh Saraswat, Vice President of MNS said that MNS has "Maharashtra agenda and not Hindutva agenda."
Several Muslims have been associated with the party right since its inception. They have been given prominent posts in the parent party as well as affiliate bodies like the Vahatuk Sena among others.
"We are not looking at the Muslims as a political agenda. People of Maharashtra including Muslims have accepted us wholeheartedly," Saraswat said.
He said in the 2007 civic elections, MNS bagged seven seats. "In the Lok Sabha elections, we got more than 12 lakh votes in the dozen seats we contested in Mumbai, Thane and Nashik belts and in the Assembly elections, we got 13 seats. The 2012 civic elections in Mumbai will see the MNS in power," he said.
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