Setting aside their ideological differences, the Congress and the Shiv Sena, along with tacit support of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, emerged victorious in the Malegaon mayoral elections, defeating an alliance of Nationalist Congress Party and Janata Dal, which also had support of the BJP. Former two-time Congress MLA Shaikh Rasheed, who polled 41 votes, was elected mayor of the 84-member Malegaon Municipal Corporation. Deputy Mayor-elect Sakharam Ghodke of the Sena also received 41 votes.
The Congress has 28 corporators in the House and the Sena 13. The two had decided to join hands and forge a pact before the mayor elections. The AIMIM, which has seven corporators, chose to abstain in order to help a Congress-Sena victory. Shaikh Rasheed trumped Nabi Ahmed, the NCP-Janata Dal candidate who polled 34 votes. The NCP-Janata Dal alliance has a total of 27 seats. Seven of the nine BJP corporators voted for the NCP-JD mayoral candidate while two abstained.
The BJP had tried to form a pact with the NCP-Janata Dal eyeing the deputy mayor’s seat. With numbers not in its favour, the BJP decided to withdraw from the deputy mayor election, and all its members abstained from voting for NCP-Janata Dal nominee Mansoor Ahmed, who had to be content with 27 votes. Rasheed said the Congress and the Shiv Sena would work for development of Malegaon. He also thanked AIMIM corporator Shaikh Yunus Isa for his help.
“This is a win for a unified and integrated Malegaon. Despite our ideological differences, we will work for the development of this city,” he said. The Malegaon Municipal Corporation has recently drawn attention after the BJP launched a major outreach programme to woo the minority community. Located 280 km north of Mumbai, Malegaon has 79-per cent Muslim population.
The BJP had contested 55 seats in the civic polls here, fielding 27 Muslim candidates. None of these candidates won — the highest votes that a Muslim candidate from the BJP polled was 884.
At the end of the polls, leaders had a difficult time explaining why they supported otherwise ideologically-opposed parties. Yunus Isa, a senior AIMIM corporator, was questioned by a journalist why his party entered into an understanding with parties that it criticises. A riled Isa abused and threatened the reporter of a web portal.