They called him a “secular” leader, who would visit navratri pandals and not hesitate stepping out to help those in need even at midnight. In one of those rare wins for Congress and with over 39,000 votes in his kitty, party candidate Amin Patel managed to retain his Mumbadevi assembly seat even though the next best candidate of BJP, Atul Shah, put up a tough fight.
But the mood in his constituency clearly indicated that even in his win (Mumbai gave Congress five seats), it’s the candidate that the people voted and not the party.
What makes his victory even more interesting is the number of candidates the campaign had pointed to the Modi wave and entry of MIM as a clear threat to Patel and the party. In this election, while Amin garnered 39,188 votes, BJP’s Shah managed 30,675 votes allowing the former to win by a comfortable margin of 8,153 votes. Through the day, MIM’s Rafi Shahid Mohammed did eat into Patel’s “secular” vote bank, as he trailed him through the initial rounds.
Surekha Patil, a practicing lawyer, lives in a hindu-dominated area of Amin’s constituency, says the winning candidate spearheaded rehabilitation of those living in dilapidated structures. “He participated in all our festivals without prejudice and discrimination. He is a leader of the masses and is a grounded man,” says Patil with a wide grin on her face.
A teacher who campaigned door to door for Amin says he helped women, deserted by their husbands and those who could not fend for themselves. “He provided Rs 900 monetary assistance to such women under the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana,” says Preeti Kudale from Kumbharwada.
Zainab Khan, whose daughter had a problem securing admission last year after delayed Mumbai University results, is “indebted” to Amin’s constant support. “Amin saab helped her secure an admission in Hinduja College and now, after completing her graduation, she is set to become a Chartered Accountant,” Khan says with her eyes welling up.
Amin was always interested in politics, informs his younger brother Aalam. His phone hasnt stopped ringing to congratulate his brother–even as Patel was whisked away by the happy crowd.
Majority of the residents from the area belive that Amin has been following the footsteps of Congress leader Murli Deora, who was instrumental in launching the Prime Minister’s Grant Project in 1985.
As the results close in and announcements establish a clear margin for Amin, Shaikh Yunus, who is a businessmen reveals he shut his shop to show support at the counting centre.
“Amin has not only garnered muslim votes but Hindu votes from wards 217, 209 and 210 of Kalbadevia and Nagpada areas. He has been rewarded for his secular approach and down-to-earth attitude,” says social activist Farid Khan. In 2009, Amin — who had got 45,285 votes — had defeated Anil Chandrakant Padwal (Shiv Sena) by 17,000 votes.