Owaisi’s MIM scores big in Aurangabad, India polls

The Hyderabad-based Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) party has performed impressively in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) elections winning 25 out of the 53 seats it contested. Led by MP Asaduddin Owaisi, it emerged as the second-largest party in the 113-member civic body. The results were declared on Thursday.
The party, which vows to empower the downtrodden and underprivileged, was contesting the municipal elections for the first time. The party was spurred on by a fabulous performance during assembly elections last year when two MIM candidates, Imtiaz Jaleel (Aurangabad Central) and Waris Pathan (Byculla, Mumbai), emerged victorious.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP, which rule the state of Maharashtra of which Aurangabad is one of the major cities, emerged as overall winners. They contested the elections separately but are expected to form an alliance. Shiv Sena won 29 seats and the BJP 22. With the help of smaller parties, such as the Republican Party of India (RPI), and other independents, the two biggest parties are in a comfortable position to fill the three important posts of mayor, deputy mayor and standing committee chairman.
The MIM’s handsome win has proved that its victory in the assembly elections was no flash in the pan. The Congress, at whose expense the MIM scored big, managed to win only 10 seats. Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was reduced to one digit. Significantly, the Congress managed to beat senior MIM leader Javed Qureshi who was in the eye of a storm for allegedly mishandling ticket distribution.
The MIM tally would have touched 30 had some rebels not contested against the official candidates. Nearly five of the corporators who won as independents were MIM functionaries. They are expected to join the party, swelling its ranks.
The Owaisi brothers stayed put in the city in the run-up to the elections, delivering hard-hitting speeches and nipping in the bud any rebellion from disgruntled members.
Asaduddin Owaisi, who has repeatedly asserted during newspaper interviews and television talk shows that his party was not just about Muslims, scored another significant political point during the AMC elections.
Out of the 53 seats it contested, the MIM fielded 12 non-Muslim candidates, mostly underprivileged Hindus referred to as Dalits. Of these 12, five non-Muslims — Sangeeta Waghule, Lata Nikhalge, Gangadhar Dhage, Sarita Borde and Vikas Edke — emerged victorious.
“This takes the sting out of the opposition campaign that MIM is a Muslim-only party,” said a political analyst while speaking to Arab News on Thursday. “In the past, the MIM has been instrumental in facilitating the election of Dalits as mayors of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, a fact that MIM rivals try conveniently to forget.”
“The MIM performance shows that people want development and are tired of the false promises made by other parties,” Jaleel was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India. “The results also show that people’s power is greater than money power.”
The party will now eye the Mumbai municipal corporation elections which are due in 2017.