The MIM made its maiden entry into the Maharashtra Assembly, winning two seats, even when Marathi chauvinist MNS of Raj Thackeray was all but wiped...
The MIM made its maiden entry into the Maharashtra Assembly, winning two seats, even when Marathi chauvinist MNS of Raj Thackeray was all but wiped out winning just one. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's candidates won Aurangabad Central and Byculla seat in Mumbai, defeating Shiv Sena and BJP nominees respectively. MIM had fielded 24 candidates in the poll for the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
The MIM’ s electoral successes until now were primarily confined to the old city of Hyderabad despite its earlier efforts to expand its influence. The impressive win in its first attempt itself gives the city-based outfit a boost in its dreams of spreading its influence to other states. The MIM has not only won a seat in the Maratwada region which formed part of the erstwhile Hyderabad state, but it also won in Mumbai city. Besides winning two seats, the MIM has even come nearer to the victory in another two seats in Aurangabad and Nanded.
The MIM contested in 14 seats in Mumbai. Surprisingly, the party stood second in three constituencies and third in nine constituencies. The MIM performance is much more significant as the state witnessed contest among five parties. Even seasoned political analysts could not predict such a noteworthy show by MIM.
This was the first time that MIM contested Assembly elections outside the united state of Andhra Pradesh or its successor states. This victory in Maharashtra Assembly elections comes in the backdrop of the party winning 11 seats in Nanded municipal elections in 2012. This raised many an eye brow in the political circles. It now consolidated and expanded on its previous electoral successes thereby entering the Maharashtra state legislature. Thus the party now has the presence in the legislatures of two states – Telangana and the neighboring Maharashtra.
Enthused by this victory, the MIM president and Hyderabad MP, Asaduddin Owaisi, announced that the party would contest in Mumbai municipal corporation, Zilla Parishads and Panchayats in Maharashtra.
The MIM had its electoral strategy correct. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had all along been garnering their Muslim vote as the minorities strategically voted for these secular parties to oppose the Shiv Sena- BJP combine. Now, the Congress and NCP incur the severe wrath of the people due to strong anti-incumbency sweeping across the state. Even the Muslim voters were disenchanted with the Congress -NCP misrule. But, they had no other alternative as they cannot vote for any of the three other parties in the fray – Shiv Sena, BJP or MNS. The other secular parties were almost non-existent .
Given this political context, the MIM entered the fray. The MIM tactically also ran a campaign against the Congress and the NCP. Thus the anti-establishment Muslim vote drifted to MIM to an extent, giving it the entry into the Maharashtra Assembly. The Congress and the NCP called the MIM an agent of BJP. But, this seems to have cut no ice with the Muslim voter. The MIM victory should make it clear that the so-called secular parties cannot always consider the Muslims as their vote bank given their antipathy to saffron brigade.
The MIM leadership has been talking about the political vacuum in the minority vote. Except for Kerala and more recently Assam, the Muslim vote is not with any Muslim party. The minorities have been generally voting for secular parties. For instance, the Samajwadi party has been rallying the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh. The MIM show in Maharashtra especially even in Mumbai sends a warning signal for the parties like SP.
For decades until now, the MIM had made Hyderabad its impregnable stronghold. At times, it tried to expand its influence beyond the city. But, the party has often used this to bargain better in the city. The MIM was resorting to strategic contests outside Hyderabad as part of its clandestine deal mainly with Congress. The party broke its tacit tie-up with Congress and extended a hand of friendship to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The TRS in its enthusiasm to consolidate in the city is avidly looking towards MIM for an overt or covert deal. The TRS feels it necessary to have some sort of understanding with MIM as the city remains an enigma for the ruling party.
Deal with MIM is part of a multipronged strategy of KCR to capture the Hyderabad civic body. The other components of such an infamous strategy are importing influential leaders from other parties especially TDP and a development package etc. The TRS considers the presence of a sizable presence of people from other regions in the city as its Achilles heel.
The MIM is all set to capitalize on this vulnerability of TRS. The party would now concentrate its efforts on entering into other parts of Telangana. In fact, the party has earlier registered electoral successes in Karimnagar, Bainsa (Adilabad district) in the civic polls. The strategy of MIM would be winning a few more MLA seats from other parts of Telangana so that it would be a king maker in the wake of any fractured verdict in 2019.
The TRS in a politically shortsighted move seems to be facilitating such a passage for MIM in Telangana politics. The politics of compromise and convenience of secular parties have always given credence to the communal outfits. The political history if India is replete with many such examples on both sides of communal divide.
The MIM has also benefitted from Modi , Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath-type politics on the other side of the fence. One form of communalism breeds on the other. As the saffron party intensifies its politico religious mobilisation, the MIM would be better placed to mobilise Muslims and vice versa. This trend poses a serious threat to the secular fabric of the Indian society and polity. The secular parties should also shed their politics of minority appeasement and work for real socio- economic uplift of Muslims so that the sinister designs of fundamentalist parties could be defeated.