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Malegaon where the elections

are always fought on non-issues

Heats off the aspiring MPs as the local issues take the backseat

Monday, April 20, 2009,  ummid.com Staff Reporter





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Malegaon, a town in India with more than 70% Muslim population has always been considered as a communally sensitive place. However, there is a place in Malegaon where a Mosque and a Mandir exist side by side with Muslims and Hindus, both living there in peace since last many years. Same is the case with the whole town. Except for the...Full Story



Autorickshaws with speakers throng the streets in Malegaon for election campaigning

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Malegaon: Rehmat Bi is 65 years old. Of her four sons, the eldest is in his fifties. Yet she doesn’t have any grandchildren. The Reason? In her own words. “Rampant poverty never permitted me to arrange the marriage for any of my sons”, she says. Incidentally she is not an exception in Malegaon, the Muslim dominated textile town in Maharashtra of half a million population infamous for a chain of communal violence and very recently in the limelight when attacked by the Hindu terrorists, a day before Eid, the annual Muslim festival commemorating the end of the fasting month, the Holy Ramadan. Like her, there are more than fifty thousand families who live below the poverty line. Moreover if one looks at the civic amenities, the civic body hardly provides any to its natives. Yet more and more people keep coming to the town and today it is so crammed that an estimated 60,000 people are living in an area of one sq. kilometer against 20,000, the normal.


Though the problems on the grounds are ample in numbers to provide the opposition the needed ammo for poll campaign, never ever are they the issues for the politicians in Malegaon. Instead a look at the earlier elections reveals that Malegaon is perhaps the only town in India where the elections are always fought on non-issues. The Malegaon parliamentary constituency since independence was reserved for Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs). After the recommendations made by the delimitation committee it was merged with nearby Dhule and converted into an open and unreserved seat, people had expected that at least during the ongoing elections these issues will come into the limelight. It is however not the case even now and the scenario in the ongoing election too is more or less same as the earlier elections.


A total of 15 candidates are in the fray for the parliamentary elections to be held on April 23 the coming Thursday. While Congress has fielded Amrishbhai Patel, sitting MLA of Shirpur, an outsider but publicised for the development work he has done in his constituency, Third Front has supported the veteran socialist leader Nehal Ahmed of Janata Dal (Secular). Nehal Ahmed, who will be completing 82 in the next month is a former minister, former MLA and former mayor but people blame him for not doing anything for the town despite occupying some of these positions several times in the past. Amrish Patel and Nehal Ahmed are facing the BJP candidate Prataprao Sonawane, a graduate constituency MLA hailing from neighboring Satana.


No matter the candidates are shying away from speaking about the problems the Malegaonians are forced to live with. The election time for the people, who otherwise do not have a single public garden or park in the town to hang out, is a month-long entertainer with much fanfare and euphoria. Hence one can easily find people in every household and at almost every place of the town including the places of work, commenting on the fortunes of various political parties and their candidates in the town and the country.


For Pardeshi of Sangmeshwar, an area dominated by Hindus, the development of the town is important. “Today the situation in Malegaon is such that many of the old inhabitants after years of struggle are forced to migrate to the neighboring towns. This is the time to vote for Amrish Patel of Congress who had done some wonderful job in his constituency as an MLA”, Pardeshi says.


However there are very few people in the town who think on this line. “Of the 15 candidates in Malegaon the strong contenders are Amrish Patel of Congress, Pratap Sonawane of BJP and Nehal Ahmed of the Third Front”, says 19-year old Vicky Patil, a student with absolute confidence though he has not voted in the polls even once. About the issues in the ongoing elections Vicky says, there are many but his friend Jitendra Desle, a cable operator interrupts, “There is no question of discussing the issues we are living with as no candidate has so far visited our area.” Yet they will go to vote on April 23 and their choice is the BJP candidate Pratap Sonawane. “Because our support is to a Hindu party”, Jitendra says. Vicky and Jitendra both live in Azad Chowk, one among the few areas in Malegaon with Hindus and Muslims living together side by side.


On the same line is the opinion of the people living in the Muslim dominated eastern side of the town. “First the security then the development”, says Shafeeque Ahmed, the Chemist who had lost his son in September 2006 blast. “We need the person like Nehal Ahmed in the Parliament, the only candidate in the fray capable of raising the security issue that threatens the Muslims not only in Malegaon but whole of the country.”


More surprisingly the choice for Rehmat Bi is also the Third Front candidate Nehal Ahmed who has been accused of not doing anything for the poor. Ask her why and she says, “Hamesha usi ko dete aaye hain. (We have always given our votes to him alone).”








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Sare Jahan Se Accha

Hindustan Hamara

In 1905 more than 100 years from today, when Iqbal was a lecturer at the Government College, Lahore he was invited by his student Lala Hardayal to preside over a function. Instead of making a speech, Iqbal sang Sare Jahan Se Accha Hindustan Hamara in his style. Iqbal compiled this poem in praise of India and the poem preaches the communal harmony that had unfortunately started ceasing in India by that time. Each and every word in this poem depicts an Indian’s respect and love for the motherland and the values the Indian society inherited for long...Read Full




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