All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) national spokesperson Waris Pathan, whose comments at a public gathering at Karnataka have caused outrage, has made a name for himself over the last five years for his television theatrics.
The 53-old former MLA grew up in Bandra and is the son of a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) judge in Mumbai. A lawyer by training, he has also represented actor Salman Khan in the past and defended Muslim youth arrested in connection with the Azad Maidan riots. A late entrant into politics, Pathan first came to the fore as a last-minute candidate of the AIMIM from Byculla in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly polls. He was given a ticket after other candidates the party was interested in backed away one by one.
While Pathan does not have his own support base, the growing adulation among Muslim youth for the Owaisi brothers helped him win the 2014 polls. Pathan won the constituency which then had 2.7 lakh voters by polling only 25,000 votes.
#WATCH AIMIM leader Waris Pathan: …They tell us that we’ve kept our women in the front – only the lionesses have come out&you’re already sweating. You can understand what would happen if all of us come together. 15 cr hain magar 100 ke upar bhaari hain, ye yaad rakh lena.(15.2) pic.twitter.com/KO8kqHm6Kg
— ANI (@ANI) February 20, 2020
After being elected as an MLA, Pathan started making frequent appearances on television talk shows. He is known to have a penchant for blustering statements and likes to be referred to by the sobriquet “Sher-e-Maharashtra” (Lion of Maharashtra). He also has an active social media presence and regularly posts videos, including several in which he can be seen riding high-end motorcycles.
In 2016, Pathan was suspended for the whole of the Budget Session of Maharashtra Assembly after he refused to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. The suspension was later revoked.
Despite political rivalry and exchange of harsh remarks, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis personally attended a function organised by Pathan to celebrate his son finishing his law course.
While Pathan carved a name for himself as a television spokesperson, his performance as an elected representative from Byculla was deemed to be unsatisfactory. Also, his personal assets grew by a whopping 416 per cent during his tenure as an MLA — from Rs 3.06 crore in 2014 to Rs 15.80 crore in 2019. This was highest asset growth among all the sitting MLAs who recontested in the 2019 election.
Known for his theatrics, Pathan issued a video days before polling in which he cried and sought forgiveness from Muslim voters of Byculla for failing to fulfill their expectations. However, in the 2019 poll, he lost to Shiv Sena’s Yamini Jadhav by a margin of over 20,000 votes.
“He tries to model himself on Akbaruddin Owaisi. His utility to the AIMIM is that his speeches may add some spark to otherwise staid political rallies. His performance as a leader and an MLA, however, leave a lot to be desired,” said Javed Shaikh, a resident of Byculla.
In January this year, Pathan was appointed as the AIMIM’s national spokesperson.
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