Based on the percentage of their population in the state, Muslims
were demanding 35-38 seats in the ensuing assembly elections in
Maharashtra. However, under the delusion after its unexpected
victory in the 2009 Parliamentary elections, the Congress-NCP
alliance betrayed the community once again and refused to give
proportionate Muslim representation a serious push. Earlier the
alliance had done so, during the 2009 Parliamentary elections when
it gave tickets just to two Muslim candidates in Maharashtra.
Unfortunately, both the candidates lost the election. It left around
13% Muslim population in Maharashtra without any representation in
Interestingly, during the Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2009 - barely
few months before the crucial assembly elections - the alliance
leaders including the Prime Minister had assured proportionate
Muslim representation in assembly elections.
While ignoring the demands of the community, they also ignored their
own publicly given assurances. The community already tired of
Congress double standards on almost every front, however, is not
ready to ignore the backstabbing done in clear daylight so easily.
The Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) might have had an
edge in the Parliamentary elections. But, this time around it faces
stiff opposition from almost every corner in the state. Moreover,
due to delimitation of the constituencies, like other parties in the
state, the ruling alliance is also confused and unable to asses its
chances. Further adding to its woes is the dissents within and a
certain multi-cornered contests in all 288 seats. The circumstances
hence has made the Muslim vote for this election crucial as never
There are around hundred seats all across the state where Muslim
population is in the range of minimum 10 to maximum 35 percent of
the total. It can clearly swing the elections in anybody's favour if
used tactically. The Muslims were demanding for 35-38 seats where
the community has a clear edge over the others. Constituencies like
Malegaon (Central), Bhiwandi (E) and Bhiwandi (W), Kamptee and quite
a few number of seats in Mumbai and Konkan have enough number of
Muslim population that can independently elect a MLA.
Nanded, Aurangabad (W),
Aurangabad(E), Parbhani, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, and Gangapur are
some of the seats where Muslims have sizeable presence.
Marathwada – No cakewalk for the Ruling Alliance
Out of these hundred constituencies, Nanded, Aurangabad, Parbhani,
Jalna, Beed, Hingoli and Osmanabad in the Marathwada region of
Maharashtra are the districts where at some places Muslims are
clearly in an electoral decisive positions. A look at these
constituencies reveals that the repercussion of the ruling
alliance’s misdeeds of the past ten years is clearly imminent.
“There are places in this region where the considerable majority of
Muslim community can easily elect 4-5 Muslim MLAs”, says Akhter bhai,
a local activist. “But when the elections come, parties like
Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) do not give party
tickets to Muslim candidates on first place. If they do, they give
it to such a person who would not have any credibility in the
community. The move results in dissent that further results in the
defeat of the Muslim candidate.”
Of late, Marathwada has become a breeding ground for terrorists. On
one side, the region has seen the arrests and detentions of Muslim
youths on the pretext of being associated with SIMI and involved in
terrorism, Hindu youths who were caught red-handed while making
bombs and were allegedly involved in bombing the mosques in Jalna,
Poorna and other places in the state are freely roaming around.
Muslims are feeling alienated because of all these things.
“Crime is a crime. If you give punishments to people from one
religion because of a crime and let others from a different religion
involved in similar crime to roam free, you are alienating the
people. The government is not ready to look into this and we don’t
have a leader who can vociferously raise it in the house", says
Jaleel Ahmed, a local trader before adding, "Delimitation has given
us an advantage and though the ruling alliance has not fielded
Muslim candidates as demanded, we are working on to elect a suitable
Muslim candidate who is in the race."
Somewhat similar is the case in Aurangabad. The city has a sizeable
number of Muslim population that after delimitation has become more
important. However, the ruling alliance instead of fielding a Muslim
candidate has repeated sitting MLA Ranjendra Darda from one of the
two Aurangabad seats.
The ruling alliance is already facing dissent in the city since last
year when four of its corporators resigned en-mass protesting
against the communal riots and indiscriminate arrests of Muslim
youths. Further damaging the ruling alliance’s chances, all of them
won the consequent by-elections forming Muslim Ittehad
Front. Now, one of them is also in the fray for the coming
assembly elections, clearly making the going tough for Rajendra
Darda, who is seeking re-election on ruling alliance’s ticket.
Nagpur (Central), Akola,
Aakot, Khamgaon, Buldana, Kamptee, Amravati, Yewatmaal and Pusad are
some of the seats where Muslims have sizeable presence.
Farmer suicides, riots
2004 assembly elections, the ruling alliance had hardly anything for
itself in this region. Barring three of four Nagpur seats, Amravati,
Khamgaon, Murtuzapur and Pusad, rest more than dozen seats were won
by the saffron alliance. In this election as well, the ruling
alliance can only pray for an improvement as a series of communal
riots, as always, has polarized the voters – and everyone knows in
whose favour. It has also resulted in creating a sense of insecurity
among the Muslim masses.
and bad elements are everywhere and in every religion. But after
every riot, it is the Muslims who suffer the most and it is they who
are detained and harassed by the police after the riots end. This is
going on since years", says Mohd Saleem of Yewatmaal.
Moreover, in the draught hit areas of Vidarbha, farmers continue to
commit suicide despite loan waivers announced by the government.
Besides the alienation of
the Muslim community, it is in Amravati where the ruling alliance is
facing one of the most awkward situations. Here, ignoring Dr. Sunil
Deshmukh - a minister in the current government and two term MLA
from this important Vidarbha city - the alliance has given ticket to
President Pratibhatai Patil's son Shekhawat. Despite all efforts,
Dr. Sunil Deshmukh is bent on contesting the election against the
president's son as an independent.
Maharashtra - Not a smooth ride
In North Maharashtra, there
are constituencies like Malegaon, Jalgaon and Dhule where Muslims
have strong presence. Due to this in Malegaon (central) and Jalgaon
(city) the ruling alliance has fielded Muslim candidates. While in
Jalgaon, it has given the ticket to Saleem Patel, sitting Congress
MLA Shaikh Rasheed is seeking re-election from Malegaon.
Two-time MLA Shaikh Rasheed
is facing a tough battle ahead in Malegaon, the city attacked by the
terrorists in 2006 and 2008. The arrests of, as termed by a majority
in Malegaon, innocent Muslim youths in connection with 2006 blast
and poor handling of the case into the 2008 blast, and a near naught
performance in the past ten years is all giving sleepless nights to
the congress candidate. He is pitted against a strong candidate in
the form of Mufti Mohd. Ismail and veteran socialist Nehal Ahmed.
While Nehal Ahmed is a RPI-Left led Third Front candidate, Mufti
Ismail - a political novice, who came into limelight in 2007 after
he wrested power in the civic body forming a local third front - is
contesting the election as a Jan Saurajya Party candidate.
Mumbadevi, Kandiwali (E), Bandra (W), Bhiwandi (W) Bhiwandi (E) and
Mira Bhayendar are some of the seats in this region that has strong
Mumbai-Thane and Konkan belt - LS repeat looks difficult for the
The region has strong
Muslim presence. This has forced the ruling alliance to field five
Muslim candidates from Mumbai alone. Prominent among them are
Baba Siddiquee, Dr. Sayyad Ahmed, Amin Patel and Mohd Aslam.
Besides them, the existing
Mayor of Bhiwandi Javed Dalvi is also fighting the election as a
Cong-NCP alliance candidate.
rebellion has made the going tough for the ruling alliance and it
looks uncertain that it would be able to repeat the LS performance
in Mumbai, Konkan belt and Thane-Bhiwandi.
People had given a strong
mandate in favour of the ruling alliance in the 2009 parliamentary
elections. However, later analyses revealed that the ruling
alliance's success in LS polls was largely due to the Maharashtra
Navnirman Sena (MNS) - a Shiv Sena splinter group led by Raj
Thackery. While Raj Thackery is fighting the elections with renown
vigour and is all set to damage Saffron alliance's chances in the
election, Samajwadi Party (SP) - more powerful than the LS polls
because of its alliance with RPI and Left - too looks certain to eat
into the alliance's Muslim vote bank. In fact with the candidates
like Abu Aasim Azmi, Rasheed Tahir Momin and Basheer Musa Patel, it
can even wrest certain seats from the ruling alliance.
However, first the
delimitation of the constituencies and later the large-scale
dissents in almost every political alliance and tough multi cornered
contests, have made the predictions tough for even the expert
political commentators. The 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra are
going to polls on October 13, 2009 and there are more than five
thousand candidates in the fray. Till then, like the pollsters, we
also keep our fingers crossed.