Yes, you have read the headline right. At a time when Indian Muslims are particularly in need of strong political representation from community at government forums, 17 Muslim candidates have filed their nomination from a single seat of Malegaon for the Maharashtra assembly elections due on 15th October.
Malegaon, more popularly known as textile town of Maharashtra is a densely Muslim populated region which came to the limelight after twin Malegaon blasts in 2006 on the eve of Shab-e-barat and another serial blasts in 2008 during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The seat was previously won in 2009 by Mufti Ismail Abdul Khaliq on the ticket of Jan Surajya Shakti Party. More recently after announcement of election date he has joined Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar and on Saturday filed nomination on NCP ticket.
Besides Mufti Khaliq, 16 other Muslim candidates have filed their nominations from the same seat on different parties’ tickets. Interestingly Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena (SS) have also given their party ticket to Muslim candidates for this seat considering over 60% of population in the region comprises Muslims.
These candidates are : Mufti Ismail Abdul Khaliq (NCP), Aasif Shaikh Rashid (INC), Abdul Malik Shaikh Yunus (MIM), Buland Iqbal Nihal Ahmad (Janata Dal),Syed Salim Syed Alim (SP), Shan Hind Nihal Afmad (Janata Dal Secular), Shaikh Arif Shaikh Bilal (BJP), Khan Hamid Kasim (Suraksha Maha Sangh), Sajid Akhtar Aitazaduddin (Shiv Sena), Shaikh Rasheed Shaikh Shafiq (Ind.), Ayyaz Ahmad Sultan Khan (Ind.), Mufti Abdul Malik Abdul Khaliq (Ind.), Arif Ahmad Shaikh Jafar (Ind.), Khan Muhammad Ayyub (Ind.), Rafiq Ahmad Haji (Ind.), Muhammad Ismail Juman (Ind.) and Abdul Wahid Muhammad Sharif (Ind.).
There is only one non-Muslim candidate Rajesh Mangu More who will fight on the ticket of Mayavati lead Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Debuting Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is trying very hard to win this seat and hence Akbaruddin Owaisi had a big rally here on Friday urging the Malegaon people to give MIM a chance. During the rally he asked Muslims in the region, “Every community in India has its own party. If Yadavs, Bahujan Samaj and Marathas can have their parties in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, why not we Muslims?”
MIM is viewing Malegaon as a crucial seat due to the Muslim traditional culture followed in the town and the national attention grabbed by the town due to serial blasts blamed on right wing activists including Army intelligence officer Col. Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
Malegaon People’s mood after declaration of candidates
Although all but one candidate to fight from the seat are Muslims but people in the region have different feelings regarding such a number of candidates from the very community.
I. Shaikh, a cleark working for Techinical College in Malegaon said to TwoCircles.net, “This much number of Muslim candidates from Malegaon shows that they have more desire of power than a will to serve the community. Also when the ideological differences of Muslims with BJP and Shiv Sena are widely known then it is reprehensible for such Muslim candidates to fight on their ticket. “
“People of the town are not happy with the performance of Mufti sahib (referring to sitting MLA Mufti Ismail) as none of the problems of the town have been solved in last 5 years”, he said when asked if he will support sitting MLA who recently joined NCP.
Abdul Rasheed, a tailor in the power loom town said, “Why these Muslims are fighting against each other. Rather they should draw a common objective and support each other. We need someone to raise the voice in the assembly for the problems faced by common man in the town. We need someone like Assaduddin who speaks for the community with vigor in Parliament”.
“This town is well known for the couple of blasts carried out by Hindu activists. Many innocent people died whose families are still waiting to see justice done to their loved ones. Even though 17 out of 18 contestants are Muslims (but) I don’t see anyone have courage to lift up the matter of speedy justice to blasts victims of the town”, said Tazil Ahmed, a social activist.
“Number (meaning 17 out of 18 contestants being Muslims) shows that Muslims are more divided even at a place where they are more in number. There should not have been so much Muslim candidates when none of the party in Maharashtra is talking about development agenda in the state for election”, said Maulavi Nisar Milli.
“Muslims should introspect and realize their weaknesses and come up with solution for their own problems and should not pay any heed to such power longing (candidates)”, he advised.