February 21, 2017 4:02:40 am
MARKING its space out among the secular parties, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party, which is contesting the civic elections for the first time, hit the ground for campaigning before its competitors. The party has fielded 59 candidates, mostly in Muslim-dominated areas. It is expected that AIMIM will manage to secure 6-8 seats.
Members of the community said the party had good chances of winning from South Mumbai areas such as Mumbadevi and Byculla where it has fielded six candidates each. Aamir Edresy, president of NGO Association of Muslim Professionals, said Ward 216 (Grant Road) could be an easy win for MIM. “Nasir Qureshi is MIM’s candidate from that ward. He is a local resident and the only Muslim candidate in a ward where majority of the population belongs to the community,” he said. Samajwadi Party has not fielded any candidate here.
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Senior journalist Sarfaraz Arzoo said SP and MIM would collectively win around 15 seats. “Earlier, there weren’t many serious competitors for Muslim votes. However, now Muslim votes are getting divided as there are two or more claimants in almost all wards. At its peak, SP was only able to garner a maximum of 22 seats and the threshold has been set. All things considered, MIM could win around seven seats at best,” he said.
In a few of the wards, Edresy and other members of the Muslim community pointed out the likelihood of a close fight. In case of Ward 211, which includes areas like Madanpura, SP leader Rais Shaikh is up against a 22-year-old MIM candidate, Mohammad Adil Qureshi.
In Ward 223, which includes Umerkhadi and Wadibundar, MIM candidate Waqarunnisa Ansari, a four-time corporator, will compete against sitting corporator Dynanraj Nikam’s daughter Nikita. “Even though Nikita is a sitting corporator’s daughter, Ansari has a lot of experience and she is well known in the area. She has a good chance,” said Edresy.
Apart from South Mumbai, MIM will also pin its hopes on Govandi and Dharavi. Qamruddin Sheikh of NGO Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti said party candidate Sujata Bhalerao had a good connect with the Dalit population in Ward 189. Mohammad Khalid, a social activist from Govandi, said MIM’s candidate in Ward 138 Shabana Ansari was a junior college teacher from the area and could emerge as a dark horse. The ward includes areas such as Raman Mama Nagar in Govandi.
Shahid Latiq, editor of Urdu daily Inquilaab, pointed out that there was a lot of confusion among the Muslim voters with all secular parties contesting against each other. “The contest for seats is now four dimensional and voters have to decide on the basis of how qualified a candidate is. In such an election, even 200-odd votes would make a huge difference,” he said.
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