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Congress, latest victim of The Malegaon Blast

Thursday, October 22, 2009 08:00:28 PM, Aleem Faizee,

Final results of the Malegaon (Central) assembly constituency.

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Malegaon: The Congress led ruling alliance in Maharashtra may have regained power in the state. In Malegaon, however, it has to face humiliating defeat. The reason? It may look awkward but it is the fact that the two terrorist attacks that rocked the Muslim dominated textile town in North Maharashtra - first in 2006 and then again in 2008 proved damaging for the alliance candidate.


Unlike the ruling alliance that succeeded in regaining the power in Maharashtra for the third consecutive time, its candidate in Malegaon (Central) assembly seat Shaikh Rasheed who was representing the town as MLA since 1999 miserably failed in winning the seat once again. He lost the all important assembly elections to Mufti Mohd Ismail - a cleric who came into the limelight after leading a local political group to victory in the 2007 civic elections.


The ruling alliance in Maharashtra had arrested the Muslim youths in connection with the 2006 blasts outside a  mosque - believed by a majority in the town as a clear attack on the local Muslims. More than three years after the incident, the accused are still lingering in the jail. The strong anti-incumbency wave thus generated against the Congress led ruling alliance in Mumbai had helped Mufti Ismail to lead a newly formed political group to victory in the 2007 civic elections. Incidentally, it is again the same factor that clearly helped Mufti Ismail. This time to win the assembly elections for himself.


Though, Shaikh Rasheed was confident of his victory till the counting of the votes that began today morning at 08:00 amid tight security, the writing on the wall against him was very clear. In fact, in its survey conducted after the polling, had predicted that the strong anti-incumbency wave against the government - first due to the arrests of the Muslim youths in 2006 blast and recently because of the poor handling of the 2008 blast case that led to the removal of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the accused by a Special Mumbai Court had ensured Shaikh Rasheed's defeat.


Mufti Mohd. Ismail after winning the elections in Malegaon (Central) assembly constituency. Also seen in the picture is Returning Officer Ajay More. in its survey report has noted that due to the poor handling of the blast cases, the ruling Congress party had lost the parliamentary elections held in April 2009 when its strong candidate Amrish Patel lost the Dhule-Malegaon parliamentary seat to a lesser known BJP candidate. It has further noted in its survey that the bomb blasts in the town might prove damaging for the ruling alliance in the assembly election as well. Completely in line with the prediction made by, the results also depict the mood of the voters in the town. Exit Poll...

" survey had predicted, of the total 1,51,088 polled votes, Mufti Mohd Ismail is likely to secure 78000 to 82000 votes whereas sitting Congress MLA Shaikh Rasheed is next to him expecting somewhere between 44000 to 48000 votes. Former minister and veteran socialist leader Nihal Ahmad is way behind his political opponents expecting between 16000 to 20000 votes." in its survey that was published on October 15, had predicted that riding on the strong anti-incumbency wave against the ruling alliance, Mufti Ismail  was all set to secure more than 50% of the polled votes. When the results came after the counting is done today, as predicted by, Mufti Ismail secured 71,157 votes - barely few thousand votes short of the 50% mark. His votes, however, were enough to defeat his nearest rival Shaikh Rasheed by a huge 17,919 votes. After working very hard, Shaikh Rasheed could get 53,202 votes. Third in line was former minister and veteran socialist leader Nehal Ahmed (82) who could get just 23,237 votes.


Malegaon (Central) assembly constituency after the delimitation has a total of 2,38,684 voters including an estimated 19,000 Hindu voters. It is perhaps the only constituency in Maharashtra that has such a huge majority of Muslim voters at a single place.


Though there were other issues also that figured during the election campaign, the blast and the half hearted attitude of the state government towards Malegaon in tackling the issues - many pending since decades, made the going tough for the alliance candidate Shaikh Rasheed. Finally, when the results came out today, the voters registered their anger against the government by decisively defeating its official nominee and electing Mufti Mohd. Ismail - a person with a very strong religious background, but having no political experience.


Though politically naive, by winning the assembly election, Mufti Mohd. Ismail - a Hafiz and Imam in a local Jama Masjid has become the first Maulana - a Muslim cleric to enter the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.








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