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Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM makes dent in Cong-NCP Muslim vote bank
Saturday October 18, 2014 9:46 PM, Hena Farhat,

: How many seats Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Muslim Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will win in the 2014 Maharashtra elections will be clear only after the counting of votes Sunday. However it can be said for sure now that the Hyderabad based party, which contested the assembly election for the first time in the state, has made a big dent in the Muslim vote-bank of the Congress, NCP and other secular parties.

Asaduddin Owaisi

The trends and indications coming after the polling day on October 15 clearly shows that the Muslims in all the 24 assembly seats where the AIMIM had fielded its candidates have voted in large number in favour of the new party, notwithstanding how many seats it actually wins in the polls.

In Malegaon (Central) assembly seats the AIMIM had fielded ex-Mayor and sitting corporator of the NCP Abdul Malik as its candidate. On the campaign trail, Asaduddin Owaisi and Akbaruddin Owaisi both addressed a rally each in the city. Asaduddin Owaisi also walked in the city for a road show. Bothe the rallies and the road show attracted a huge crowd.

Asaduddin Owaisi's rally at Aziz Kallu Stadium was actually an open challenge to the NCP, as it was the same venue where NCP leader Sharad Pawar had addressed a mammoth rally. The AIMIM rally however surpassed Sharad Pawar's both in terms of number as well as in gist.

On the polling day, the effect of the Owaisi brothers' whirlwind tours of the Muslim dominated textile city was clearly visible. At many polling booths, the AIMIM candidate was in direct fight with Asif Shaikh Rasheed of the Congress. Asif Shaikh though has been projected as winner in the Malegaon Central assembly seat by the exit poll conducted by

The voters complaining the biased attitude of the Congress and NCP towards the Muslim community openly said they wanted to give the AIMIM a chance.

"We have tried the Congress, NCP and other parties in the past many years. But, our problems remain as it is. Hence, we are giving AIMIM a chance this time", Naif Abdullah (23) said while talking to the

Ditto was in Aurangabad. Here the AIMIM had fielded Imtiyaz Jaleel – a journalist who worked with NDTV, and Gangadhar Gade – a former minister in the Maharashtra govt, from Aurangabad (Central) and Aurangabad (West) respectively. Owaisi brothers visited the constituency many times and received huge response every time they were in the city.

The efforts are not without return as Imtiyaz Jaleel looks in a comfortable position if the indications and trends coming after the polls are to be believed. Pollsters are of the view that the Muslim and Dalit votes in both the constituencies polarized in favour of AIMIM. Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP fighting the elections separately also helped the AIMIM. In an important decision taken few days before the polling, the Welfare Party candidate had withdrawn in favour of Imtiyaz Jaleel.

"Here in Aurangabad, there is a nexus between the Congress –NCP and Sena – BJP. They help each other to win the elections, and Muslims are just fooled. This was hence a high time for us to look for an alternate", Taufiquzaman Shaikh (26), an engineer, said.

Shaikh's statement is a clear indication to show how the Muslims who were earlier voting for the Congress or the NCP had opted for the AIMIM.

The most interesting situation was in Mumbai and suburbs where the AIMIM candidates not only gave tough fights to their rivals but in many constituencies they were Muslim voters' first choice. In Muslim dominated Byculla, for example, sitting Congress MLA Madhu Chavan failed to impress the voters this time and it was the AIMIM candidate who was the Muslim voters' favourite.

"A decision was taken on the polling day that we should all vote for the AIMIM candidate this time," said Mumtaz Ali, a resident of Nagpada in Byculla constituency.

The same was the case with the residents of Madanpura, another pocket dominated by the Muslims.

While having a party that gave "community member" space was one reason (for voting for AIMIM), another was that they were "anyway disillusioned by Congress non-performance and other parties they tried out".

Muslims felt that the sitting MLA, Madhu Chavan of Congress, had little chance of winning, so one more reason to try out a new option.

Similar is the case in Mumbadevi and Mumbra in Mumbai suburbs. If in Mumbadevi, where the Congress sitting MLA and chairman of Maulana Azad Corporation Amin Patel's reputation is at stake, in Mumbra, NCP's Jitendra Awhad is facing tough time due to AIMIM's Ashraf Malani.

Jitendra Awhad, who was the minister in the previous government, heavily depends on the Muslim votes to win this seat. In this election however it is said for sure that AIMIM's Malanai has eaten into his vote bank.

Elsewhere in Maharashtra, in Nanded, where the MIM had fielded Syed Moeen, its state president, a good percentage of Muslim votes have swung to its favour. The MIM had won 13 seats in the Nanded civic elections held in 2013.

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