How does one interpret the debut of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, better known as the MIM, in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation? Both positively and negatively. That the party won two seats in the country’s richest municipal corporation on its first attempt could be seen as a promising beginning. As Telangana MLA and MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi said in his last rally in Mumbai: “Earlier, all you could see in Mumbai were saffron flags. Today the Majlis’ green flag is a presence in the city.”
The Mumbai contest had been left to Akbaruddin Owaisi – the younger of the two brothers who together make up the face of the MIM – while older brother Asaduddin Owaisi concentrated on Uttar Pradesh, which is in the midst of an Assembly election. The younger Owaisi camped in the city for two weeks ahead of the February 21 elections, addressing almost 20 rallies in Muslim-dominated pockets where the party fielded 52 candidates. Despite this blitzkrieg, Muslims chose just two corporators from the MIM. The corporation has 227 seats.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen had more than two years to prepare for this municipal election. It had decided to contest the civic elections in Mumbai as soon as it won two Vidhan Sabha seats in the 2014 Assembly elections, one of them in Byculla, South Mumbai. The enthusiasm generated then resulted in youngsters spontaneously forming party units in every Muslim area. To them, the Owaisi brothers seemed like messiahs in an atmosphere suddenly infused with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. The indifference of established Muslim politicians only served to enhance the appeal of the two leaders.
But the Owaisis are based in Hyderabad. Here in Mumbai, there was only their MLA Waris Pathan, a colourful character. In his office, the title “Sher-e-Maharastra [Lion of Maharashtra]” adorns his portrait. In an interview with this reporter, he described himself as “Dil naram, dimaag garam, baaki sab Allah ka karam (Soft hearted, hot tempered, the rest I leave to Allah.)”
YouTube videos featuring Pathan taking on those in authority – confronting the police who were acting on a complaint against a mosque loudspeaker or hectoring doctors at a hospital for giving a Muslim patient the routine runaround – are cited by MIM followers as proof of their MLA “fighting boldly for the community”. Asked why he was always so aggressive in these encounters, Pathan replied: “That’s when the real Waris Pathan emerges. If I were not aggressive, MIM followers would think me to be no different from the rest.”
But in his constituency, there is little trace of Pathan, grumble his voters, and those who had campaigned for him in 2014, spending their own money. One of them recounted Pathan’s response when he approached the MLA with a problem faced by some residents soon after the Assembly elections. Pathan should pay them a visit, suggested the voter.
“Pyaasa kuen ke pas jaata hai, kuan pyaase ke paas nahin [The thirsty go to the well, not vice versa],” replied Pathan loftily. He ended the conversation with a grandiose: “Log khafa honey se kuch nahin hota. MLA jab khafa hota hai, tab kuch hota hai. [Nothing happens when people are angry. It’s when an MLA is angry that things happen.]”
Pathan maintains that so far, he has spent his MLA funds on the repair of old buildings. But most of his time seemed to have been spent heeding SOSes from Muslims across the state. That left MIM members in Mumbai with the party president, businessman Shakir Patni. Though Patni is as sober as Pathan is flamboyant, he has no background in politics. “He has no clue on how to build a party,” grumbled one MIM worker. “How can he compete with other party heads who are seasoned politicians?”
This absence of a strong local leadership in the city resulted in each unit behaving as per its whims. A social worker in Govandi, an eastern suburb of Mumbai, recounted how he requested MIM workers there to help locals with Aadhaar card procedures and to participate in cleanliness drives and felicitate toppers of the Senior Secondary Certificate exams. “But when it came to work, those boys were unwilling,” said the social worker. “All they wanted to do was roam around with MIM flags.” An activist in Jogeshwari, a northwest suburb of Mumbai, made the same complaint.
This failure to build a local leadership wasn’t incidental. As events unfolded in the run-up to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls, it became clear that the party would be ruled by Hyderabad. Key people who had worked for the MIM since 2014, said that the Owaisis had asked them to hunt out suitable candidates. They were confident that their candidates would not only win, but also work under their supervision to change the dismal face of Muslim-majority municipal wards. They hoped that a new Muslim leadership, never allowed to flourish by the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party, would emerge.
But their dreams were shattered as they found decisions being taken by MIM MLA from Telangana, Ahmed Balala, who is also related to Asaduddin Owaisi by marriage. Soon, the city was thick with reports of money being demanded for MIM tickets. The first to go on record was Adil Khatri from Bandra, a western suburb of Mumbai, who had initially joined the Aam Aadmi Party when it had contested the Lok Sabha elections in Mumbai in 2014. The young lawyer used to do free legal work for poor Muslims who would approach the MIM. When his name appeared on the first list of candidates released by the party, he told this reporter excitedly: “I’ve been chosen despite fat cats having approached the party with offers of lakhs. I was told Akbaruddin wanted me. I’m a lawyer, I know I’ll be able to fight corruption in the BMC.”
In a week, however, an unknown candidate replaced Khatri on the list. The lawyer alleged that this happened because he refused to pay the Rs 50 lakhs that Balala and corporators from Hyderabad had demanded. Others followed Khatri in making similar allegations, all of which Waris Pathan has denied.
However, whether money was demanded from candidates, there is no doubt that Hyderabad’s heavy hand in selecting candidates left sincere party workers frustrated.
In an audio recording that this reporter is in possession of, a voice with a strong Hyderabadi accent, believed to be that of an MIM leader, is heard telling the person in charge of selecting the party’s candidates for Mumbra, a Muslim-dominated suburb of neighbouring Thane: “When you choose a candidate, forget his loyalty, integrity, decency, or hard work. What we want is a candidate who can spend money and win. This is the party’s policy.”
The party’s final tally of two winners in Mumbra, and two in Mumbai is a tribute to this policy. The Mumbai winners are unknown faces whose win was not predicted even by the party. What must make this result more galling for the Owaisis is that 23 Muslims won in the city from the so-called secular parties that both brothers revile for having betrayed the community, and two won from the communal Shiv Sena.
Obviously, Mumbai’s Muslims remained impervious to the charms of the Hyderabadis. “Akbaruddin’s speeches in Govandi left the atmosphere surcharged,” said Farooq Mapkar, a victim of the 1992-’93 communal riots, angrily. “We were afraid a riot would break out.
Said Moiuddin, who works with activist Medha Patkar’s Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan: “Speeches don’t matter to us, work matters.”
But doctoral student Junaid Qureshi, who has been with the party since 2014, remains committed to the MIM despite his disappointment. “Mumbai is not Hyderabad,” he said, sighing. “We have to convey this to the party leadership.”
List of candidates for Malakpet Constituency 2014The table below shows who are the contesting BJP, Congress, independent etc. candidates from the Malakpet Assembly Constituency in the Telangana Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) Elections 2014.
Sitting and previous MLAs from Malakpet Assembly ConstituencyBelow is the list of winners and runners-up in the Malakpet assembly elections conducted so far.
|Year||A. C. No.||Assembly Constituency Name||Type of A.C.||Winner Candidates Name||Gender||Party||Votes||Runner UP||Gender||Party||Votes|
|2014||58||Malakpet||GEN||Ahmed Bin Abdullah Balala||Male||AIMIM||58976||B. Venkat Reddy||Male||BJP||35713|
|2009||58||Malakpet||GEN||Ahmed Bin Abdullah Balala||M||AIMIM||30839||Md. Muzaffar Ali Khan||M||TDP||22468|
|2004||212||Malakpet||GEN||Malreddy Ranga Reddy||M||INC||138907||Manchireddy Kishan Reddy||M||TDP||115549|
|1999||212||Malakpet||GEN||Indrasena Reddy Nallu||M||BJP||118937||Sudheer Kumar P||M||INC||69617|
|1994||212||Malakpet||GEN||M. Ranga Reddy||M||TDP||54441||Indrasena Reddy Nallu||M||BJP||47857|
|1989||212||Malakpet||GEN||P. Sudhir Kumar||M||INC||63221||M. Indra Sena Reddy||M||BJP||52233|
|1985||212||Malakpet||GEN||N. Indra Sena Reddy||M||BJP||57581||Nandendla Bahskara Reddy||M||IND||39790|
|1983||212||Malakpet||GEN||Ndrasena Reddy||M||BJP||21937||Kandala Prabhakar Reddy||M||INC||19340|
|1978||212||Malakpet||GEN||Kandala Prabhakar Reddy||M||JNP||25400||B. Sarojini Pulla Reddy||F||INC(I)||24279|
|1972||211||Malakpet||GEN||B. Sarojini Pulla Reddy||M||INC||23164||Gurulingam L Sathiah||M||IND||11230|
|1967||211||Malakpet||GEN||B. S. .P. Reddy||F||INC||17662||A. Rahman||M||IND||8692|
|1962||214||Malakpet||GEN||Mir Ahamed Ali Khan||M||INC||10166||Khaja Abu Syeed||M||IND||7581|
|1957||17||Malakpet||GEN||Mir Ahmed Ali Khan||F||INC||7693||Khatija Alam||F||3883|
Last Updated on December 17, 2013