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“The reason why BJP won from Dhule-Malegaon constituency, considered as one of the safest seats for a secular candidate, is that the Congress candidate Amrishbhai Patel could not get enough Hindu votes and Janata Dal (S) candidate Nehal Ahmed failed to garner enough Muslim supports”, said Khan Iftekhar, a teacher in a local college pointing at the area-wise results. “Congress got good supports in Muslim pockets and the urban areas of the constituency. But the adjoining rural areas and Malegaon outer assembly segment with predominantly Hindu population was almost polarized in saffron combine’s favour”, he added.


It requires not a deeper look into the constituency to discover the reason for this polarization. While Malegaon, the textile town with predominantly Muslim population, has seen two deadly bomb blasts, one in 2006 and the other in 2008, Dhule, the other major town in the constituency saw the worst ever communal violence on its soil in October 2008 just before the corporation election with a motive, believed by many in the region, to win the elections. Though the riots could not affect the outcome of the corporation election as the people in the main town refused to play on the divisive politics, the tragic incidents in Malegaon and Dhule did play a major role in communalizing the rural and part of the urban areas. "It is no secret that the series of communal violence in Malegaon had a political agenda", would say every three of five people in Malegaon.


Same is the story in Jalgaon, Raver, Beed, Akola, Amrawati, Aurangabad, Buldana, Prabhani and Jalna parliamentary constituencies. All these constituencies have witnessed a series of communal violence and the bomb blasts, allegedly purported by the Hindu right wing organizations in the recent past. While Akola, Jalna, Beed, Raver and Jalgaon went to Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Aurangabad, Amrawati, Prabhani and Buldana were comfortably won by Shiv Sena.


Beed, from where former Maharashtra Dy. Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde won by a margin of more than one lakh votes, is the constituency that witnessed a bomb attack damaging a mosque in its neighborhood on April 4, barely few days before the polling. Like Beed, Jalna and Prabhani have also seen the bomb attacks in the near past. For the April Beed blast, the police arrested three Hindu youths on May 13, after the election process in the whole country was complete and for the other blasts also, it is alleged that like the Malegaon blasts, they had also been masterminded by the Hindu right wing organizations to avenge the terrorist attacks allegedly carried by the Muslim extremist groups.


Similarly the villages in and around Jalgaon and Aurangabad went through a series of communal violence in the past few years because a CD containing the controversial and provocative song Mandir wahi banaige… were reportedly played by the Hindu mob in Muslim dominated areas. The state government in Maharashtra eventually banned the controversial CD but not before a major part of the State in Marathwada and Khandesh regions witnessed a kind of Gujarat that along with resulting in losses in human life and property played an instrumental role in communalising these regions.


“One can hardly deny the roles first the communal riots and now the terrorist attacks play in driving the voters in favour of the parties with communal agenda”, said Ab. Karim Salar, former standing committee chairman in Jalgaon Municipal Corporation with a chain of Education Institutes to his credit. “Yet it is difficult to ascertain why the successive governments have failed in taking any action against the people who resort to the politics of hate”, he wondered.


Though Salim Khan, a school teacher at a school in nearby Raver, was not as vocal as Karim Salar, he agreed that the riots do influence the election results. Of late Raver located barely hundred kilometers from Jalgaon has also seen the communal violence. While in Jalgaon A.T. Patil won the election for BJP, Haribhau Jawade did the same for the party in Raver.


Ironically for the rural Maharashtra miserably lacking in infrastructural development and availability of the basic amenities, these are not the issues important enough to discuss even during the elections. “There is no question of discussing the issues we are living with as no candidate has so far visited our area”, Jitendra Desle, a cable operator in Malegaon had said before the polling. Yet he decided to vote and support the BJP because he had said, “Our support is for a Hindu party.”


The results are hence not far from the expected lines and when most of the urban India voted on development plank and for a stable government, the rural Maharashtra refused to follow the suite. As the new government is formed in next few days, it will be interesting to watch if at all it takes any concrete measures to combat not only the terrorists but also against those who indulge in divisive politics. For, the Congress Chief and the Prime Minster on more than one occasion during the election campaign have reportedly asserted that terrorists and communal forces both are threatening the country in equal terms.





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