Updated: January 13, 2022 10:59:55 pm
The Congress has named 32-year-old Shehzad Khan Pathan as the Leader of Opposition in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). Though 11 corporators resigned from the party in protest, the Congress named him for the post and issued notices for indiscipline. It demanded a written explanation within seven days to the four of the 11 corporators for ‘maligning the party’s image with their statements to the media.’
One of the reasons the dissenting corporators cited apart from Pathan being “inexperienced”, and “rude to women”, was that he had met All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi during his visit to Ahmedabad in September 2021. Pathan told The Indian Express, “I had told the party that it was only a courtesy visit. Since they (Owaisi and his team) wanted to visit me at my home I told them I will visit and meet them”.
Pathan’s father Nasir Khan is a realtor based in Shah-e-Alam area of Ahmedabad. Pathan won the very first time he contested from Danilimda ward in 2010 as corporator in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that has been ruled by the BJP since 1995, barring one term when the Congress was in power in 2000-2005 . This is his third term in office.
Pathan has three police cases against him, mainly for participating in protests. He was lodged in Sabarmati Central jail for 55 days from December 19, 2020, arrested under relevant sections of the IPC for rioting and attempt to murder during a anti Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest he led in Shah-e-Alam. He has been Youth Congress president, general secretary of Gujarat Pradesh Youth Congress and national secretary of Youth Congress in the last one decade. Pathan, who has a diploma in business management from Sarina Russo Schools, Australia, said he is not surprised by the opposition from his fellow councillors on his appointment and termed it as ‘human nature’. “Nothing is easy in politics. One has to continue working hard without expectations of any reward,” the newly appointed LoP said.
During the 55-day judicial custody, Pathan attended the AMC general board meeting on January 29, 2020 with police escort. He was granted a temporary bail by a local court for five hours to participate in the general board meeting.
Why did the Congress choose Pathan?
Congress last had a Muslim LoP in Badruddin Shaikh from 2010-15. Shaikh died of Covid infection in 2020. Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said the reason the party chose Pathan was because he was “a young leader who has the zeal to strengthen and take forward the party’s ideology. He has the capability of taking even those opposing him along for citizens’ causes”.
Of the 192 AMC corporators, 24 are from INC, 160 from the BJP and seven from AIMIM along with one independent after elections were held in February last year. This is the first time the AIMIM has won seats in the AMC, indicating a fragmentation in the Muslim vote.
According to Doshi, “AIMIM as a party does not have anything of its own. It has not come on its own but been brought by BJP for division of votes. This holds for both AIMIM or Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Doshi said that Pathan is a “progressive Muslim” and therefore was picked for the job. “Our central focus will remain on justice to all city residents”, he said
Pathan, the ‘protester’
Known for his unique ways to protest, he dumped garbage in 2017 outside the mayor’s office to protest against poor sanitation and cleanliness in his ward. In 2016, he sat on a dharna outside the Mayor’s office demanding redressal of his issues in his ward.
A fellow corporator recalls how in a mark of protest to raise a long-pending demand for a community hall in his ward “he got a couple married in AMC’s South zone ward office”.
Demanding a public library in his constituency, he led a march of young children to AMC headquarter in Danapith intending to make them read there, but was detained midway.
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