Riding on the back of growing disenchantment of Muslim youngsters, who until now supported the Congress and the NCP, the hawkish Hyderabad based Majlis-e-Ittihadul Muslimeen (MIM) has made an entry into the Maharashtra Assembly.
The party won two seats — former journalist Imtiaz Jalil won from Aurangabad Central, defeating his Shiv Sena rival Pradeep Jaiswal by a margin of 20,329 votes; and Byculla where advocate Waris Pathan defeated his BJP rival Madhu Chavan by 934 votes.
MIM’s strongest showing was in the Marathwada region where the party has been active for the past four years. The party came second in two other places — Parbhani and Aurangabad East. The party fielded over two dozen candidates, most of them in Marathwada and some in urban areas like Mumbai.
“The MIM has fed off the anxiety that has been created among the Muslim community over the behaviour of the Congress. There is a growing feeling among the youngsters that the Congress surreptitiously adopts a soft Hindutva approach for its own needs,” said senior Urdu journalist Shahid Latif.
The personal charisma of the Owaisi brothers, particularly Akbaruddin who has been charged for his vitriolic speeches, seemed to have helped sway many Muslim youngsters.
In a further cause of concern for the Congress, the MIM has said it plans to expand its base in Maharashtra and will fight all elections including those for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation slated in the next couple of years. Muslims make up nearly 20 per cent of Mumbai’s population and would play a decisive role in a number of wards.
“This result has exposed the Congress and the NCP which has been fooling Muslims for so long. The MIM is in the state for the long haul. We are strengthening our cadre base in the state and will fight all elections in the state including the BMC elections,” MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi told The Indian Express.
Muslim politicians have also acknowledged that the MIM has managed to attract Muslim youth in the state. “The youngsters got attracted to Owaisi’s speeches. It is still to be seen if the party delivers all that it has promised,” Congress MLA Amin Patel said.
Muslims represent 10.6 per cent of the state’s population and play a decisive role in 40 of the 288 Assembly seats. The last Assembly had 11 Muslim MLAs.