The announcement of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) into the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election is likely to play a crucial role with the Assauddin Owaisi-led party likely to attract minority votes that would have otherwise gone to the Indian National Congress or the Samajwadi Party.
Though the sole dark horse in the municipal election, the AIMIM's entry has added a new dimension in the election which has already seen breakage of alliance between the Indian National Congress and Nationlist Congress Party, and ruling alliance partners Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quarrelling with each other. Then there's the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MNS) whose railway engine is not on track.
So, how will the AIMIM's presence change the poll equation in the financial capital of the country?
Of the total 227 wards in BMC, there are 77 wards which represent the minority population. Earlier, these voters were either with the Samajwadi Party or the Congress. But these wards have been seeing a change in voting since 2014 after AIMIM started increasing its presence in the state and began focusing on the minority and Dalit pockets closely. In fact, the AIMIM opened its account in the last state Assembly election with Waris Pathan winning from the Byculla constituency and former media person Sayed Imtiyaz Jaleel winning from the Aurangabad constituency. Not only that, in the recent civic poll in Aurangabad, AIMIM won 26 seats. It also opened account in Kalyan-Dombiwali Municipal Corporation with four corporator seats. Now with AIMIM turning its focus on the BMC and Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) election, its presence is likely to affect the poll results.
Sources confirmed with Firstpost that AIMIM will be contesting on 77 seats with considerable minorities and dalit population. Both Owaisi brothers — Asaduddin Owaisi, MP and president of AIMIM and his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi, MLA in Telangana assembly — are conducting minimum a 30 public meetings for the BMC election. The strong pockets for AIMIM is Kurla, Byculla, Masjid Bunder, Sandhurst Road, Malwani, Bandra, Bhendi Bazar, Nagpada, Jogeshwari, Behrampada, Malad, Oshiwara, Golibaar and Bharat Nagar. In the 2012 BMC body, Congress had 52 corporators whereas Samajwadi Party had 9 Corporators. AIMIM's focus on 60 plus wards and their MLA constituencys might just be the winning formula.
Though the party is yet to take a final call on the number of seats it will contest in the upcoming municipal election, the party's Mumbai head, Waris Pathan said that a final decision is likely to be taken in the public meetings with the Owisi brothers.
"We are preparing a detailed schedule for the Owaisi brothers meetings, which will start in February. We are focusing on minority and Dalit population wards. We have not yet decided the actual wards in the BMC election, but the party will not let down minorities, the Dalit and the poor people of Mumbai," he said, adding that the Owaisi brothers are the star campaigners for AIMIM.
Patahn alleged that while Congress and the Samajwadi party used these communities, the ruling party Shiv Sena and the BJP were corrupt."In the last 20 years they jointly ran the BMC. Now, see the condition of the roads. There's water issue and sanitation problem everywhere," he said.
Pathan also pointed out AIMIM's focus Will be to start canvassing in the Muslim and Dalit dominated areas. "People of Mumbai have lost faith in Sena, BJP, Congress and SP. They did nothing in minority schools. Marathi schools are closing every day. Then there's a shortage of medicines in hospitals and poor civic amenities. Our focus is Dalit, poor and minority population," said Pathan.
However, according to AIMIM leaders, the party could bag seats in areas like Golibar, Byculla, Bharat Nagar, Jogeshwari, Juhu Galli Andheri, Malad, Behrampada among others.
Based out of Hyderabad, AIMIM contested in Maharashtra civic elections for the first time by participating in the civic polls in Nanded two years ago. The party later also contested the Aurangabad civic polls and the state assembly election in which its MLAs won the Byculla and Aurangabad seats. The party also won more than 50 seats in recently concluded civic polls across Maharashtra.
In his first public meeting in Nagpada on 1 January, Assauddin Owaisi has said, "Elect at least 25 members of AIMIM in the BMC and we will get the fair share for Muslim wards." The focus of the party has not changed. Speaking with Firstpost from Uttar Pradesh, Assauddin Owaisi said that as per internal reports by AIMIM, the party will definitely win more than 25 seats in the BMC election.
"My brother is going to be the star campaigner in the municipal elections. I will also participate in the BMC campaign but Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election is going to be my main responsibility. But this time we change all equations in the BMC," he said.
"Like the state Assembly election, people in Mumbai will definately support us and our symbol kite. Every one will see it in Mumbai and the BMC headquarter too," he added.
Updated Date: Jan 18, 2017 15:50 PM