The 46-year-old lawyer Waris Pathan was a last-minute candidate for the AIMIM from the Byculla Assembly seat, after those the party was keen on nominating backed out one by one.
“You could say that Pathan was the seventh or eight name on the list. The party was alarmed that it could not find anyone to contest from this seat,” a source from AIMIM said. Local activists decided to pitch the name of Pathan days before the deadline for filing nominations was to end.
“We spoke to him one night and by next evening, he said he would contest. At that time, he was representing some boys who had been picked up during the Azad Maidan riots. We thought we would be able to promote him ,” an AIMIM insider said.
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A Bandra boy and the son of the first Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) judge in Mumbai, Pathan was brought in to Byculla.
The growing popularity of the Owaisi brothers among the Muslim youth translated into votes and Pathan scraped through with a margin of 900, becoming the first Muslim to represent the constituency dominated by the minority community in the past decade.
“Yaha raat ko chai peete hain. Porcelain ke cup main. Nukkado main. Bas hum bhi chai peene lage, raat ko. (They drink tea at night here. In porcelain cups. In street corners. We too began to drink tea in the night),” Pathan says, describing his strategy to reach out to young voters.
Party insiders, however, claim Pathan was simply lucky to have been at the right place at the right time. While the MLA is often found promoting the AIMIM stance on TV, many residents are not too happy with him.He does not visit the swanky office he has opened at Byculla as often as the locals would want. “He may be good at making statements on TV, but there is a serious disconnect with the people. The residents had elected him with great hopes. I feel sad to say that we have been disappointed,” a resident from Byculla said.