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Congress is a 'Head'-less Party
Thursday October 23, 2014 9:30 PM, M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

The outcome of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana is out. As projected by political experts; the actual results rightly are; the Indian National Congress (INC) bites dust in both the states and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) makes sweeping victory in Haryana (47 out of 90) and 'historic' win in Maharastra (123 out of 288). The party is forming governments in both the states with RSS hands as heads of the states.

The ultimate loser is the Congress because it has been ruling the states – Haryana and Maharashtra for last 10 and 15 years respectively. And the principal gainer is the BJP for, the party has won only 4 seats in Haryana in 2009 and it was positioned as the fourth party, at most, throughout the history of Maharashtra, but this election directly put it on the driving seat kicking the Congress on third position in both the states for the first time.

The result was very much expected for me and even for any general students of Indian politics. The Congress had a chance, though by default, to at least make a face-saver retaining Maharashtra for the fourth consecutive terms in alliance with NCP following a split between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. But the party leadership once again utterly failed to take right decision at the right time, exposing its command and control as virtually collapsed and it is now a head-less party.

In this chaotic but politically open atmosphere Muslims in Maharashtra seem to have not voted very maturely again. They went after emotional rhetoric in some constituencies. The majority Muslim constituencies like 2 in Bhiwandi, one each in Mumbra, Kurla, Bandra, Aurangabad and Nanded went to Shiv Sena or BJP because of heavy division of minority votes among so-called secular party candidates from Congress, NCP, SP or AIMIM.

According to the result announced by the state election commission on 19 October, the Maharashtra house will have a total of 123 BJP MLAs followed by 63 of Shiv Sena, 42 of the Congress, 41 of the NCP, 03 of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and 02 MLAs of the All India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and others belonging to smaller parties.

The only ten Muslim MLAs elected in the 2014 state elections are: Amin Patel (Mumbadevi), Arif Naseem Khan (Chandiwali), Aslam Shaikh (Malad), Abdus Sattar (Sillod), Asif Shaikh (Malegaon - Central) – all 5 from Congress, Abu Asim Azmi (Mankhurd) from Samajwadi Party (SP), Hasan Mushrif (Kagal) from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Advocate Waris Pathan (Byculla), Imtiyaz Jaleel (Aurangabad - Central) – the duo from All India Majlis-e Ittihadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Pasha Patel (Ausa, Latur), the lone Muslim face from BJP.

The number of Muslim MLAs in the previous Maharashtra Assembly was 11 only, not a satisfactory figure either, comparing to Muslims' 15 percent population in the state. This figure would have been little better this time had the Congress and NCP not broken their alliance before elections. Results show in Bhiwandi Shoeb Guddu of Congress was leading however due to the votes taken by Rashid Tahir Momin of the NCP he lost the election.

Other losers are Baba Siddiqui, Nawab Malik and Bashir Musa Patel. All three are experienced, former MLAs and senior leaders of their respective parties. They lost the election because their parties could not transfer the non-Muslim votes in their favour.

The results once again proved that while the Congress and other secular parties win the elections on Muslim votes, when the time comes non-Muslim voters do not vote for Muslim candidates belonging to these parties.

The hallmark of this election, for Muslims, however is the emergence of the Hyderabad based All Indian Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) - the party led by the vocal MP Asaduddin Owaisi has made its presence felt. The AIMIM, which contested the Maharashtra election for the first time has fielded 24 candidates, pulled over a half million votes, won two seats, runner up in three, 3rd in eight seats.

The performance is good for a debutant party. However it is yet to be seen how this 'Muslim' party is going to help the Muslims in Maharashtra in this highly polarized political and communal conditions.

There is no sign visible anywhere that the 'Head'-less Congress can recover from these shockers in near future. The upcoming elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkand and Assam will bring the same ill-fate for the party. Writings on the walls are clear; polity in India is drastically changed, BJP is going to stay in the centre stage for a longer period than Vajpayee era.

The author M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is director of Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre, Mumbai and editor of Eastern Crescent magazine.

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