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Maharashtra Assembly Elections

Hundred seats in the state where Muslims call the shots

Tuesday, September 29, 2009, Team

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Malegaon: 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 the Parliament.


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 before.


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 rule Vidarbha

In 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.


"Good 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.


North 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.


Mumbai-Thane and Konkan

Byculla, Wadala, Mumbadevi, Kandiwali (E), Bandra (W), Bhiwandi (W) Bhiwandi (E) and Mira Bhayendar are some of the seats in this region that has strong Muslim presence.

Mumbai-Thane and Konkan belt - LS repeat looks difficult for the ruling alliance

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.


However, large-scale 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.






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