Monday, June 04, 2007

Malegaon & Bhiwandi electorate dump Congress

The rout of Congress in the civic elections in Malegaon and Bhiwandi, the two Muslim-majority towns of Maharashtra, comes just in wake of Congress' dismal performance in UP where for the first time not a single Muslim MLA of the party could win.

Didn't Congress have enough indications or they were just not bothered? For years they kept the Sri Krishna commission report under the carpet though they pledged to implement it before elections. The indifference of the then Congress Chief Minister late Sudhakar Rao Naik towards the riots (before blasts) is well known.

And though convictions have begun in the serial blast case, justice eludes the victims of the two rounds of rioting that had killed over a thousand people in Mumbai in 1992-93. There is hardly any action against the tainted police officers. And Vilas Rao Deshmukh government has shown a contemptuous disregard to the demand for CBI inquiry in Malegaon blasts.

However, the emergence of a new party Indian Muslim Congress which won 27 seats to emerge as singly largest party in Malegaon and the Independents grabbing pushing behind all other parties in Bhiwandi, are clear signs that Muslims had finally decided to dump the liars and would vote for any party other than Congress. Muslim Congress had fought the election solely on the plank of development and without any preparation (it was floated a few days before election). IMC sought votes for 'taraqqi aur bhaichara' (development and communal harmony in the town).

Mohib has written a comprehensive piece on the victory of Muslim Congress at We might see the resurgence of BSP in Maharashtra. In fact, soon after the results of Malegaon municipal corporation came out, there were reports that Shiv Sena and Muslim Congress could come together and stake claim for the post of Mayor and run the Corporation.

Though it was termed as rumour by IMC leader Mufti Ismail. But isn't it a healthy trend? Why should Muslims remain perpetually in a state of fear created by Congress and keep a distance from Shiv Sena/BJP. Gujarat carnage aside, the role of Congress has been far worse.

In Maharashtra, Muslims have been angry with the Congress for several reasons. It is the only state where 40% of jail inmates are Muslim against their share in state population, which is 10%. There is no implementation of 15-point programme for Muslims in the state and it is hard to believe but the state doesn't have the Minority Welfare portfolio in the government at present.

Precious waqf property worth hundreds of crores including that of the orphanage in the heart of Mumbai has been illegally sold with government's tacit approval. The job scenerio for Muslims is bleak as suggested by the recruitment in police last year.

Muslims students lose out as Marathi is the medium of entrance examination in the police force. Tales of harassment by ATS have acquired dangerous proportions. A Muslim politician told me that none of the 70 boards/corporations has a Muslim chairman. Of course, it wouldn't help much even if there are many but the problem is that Muslims are neither getting loans nor their colleges/institutions are getting aid properly.

Third front has won in both places:

Bhiwandi Municipal Corporation (84): Independents 37, SP 17, Congress 14, Bhiwandi Vikas Aghadi (Javed Dalvi) 9, Shiv Sena 14, BJP 4

Malegaon Municipal Corporation (72): Indian Muslim Congress (IMC) 27, Congress 15, JD (S) 13, Shiv Sena 7, MNS (Raj Thackeray) 2, NCP 2, SP 1

One must remember that the towns like Malegaon and Bhiwandi have the Muslim artisan population which had left towns of UP after the 1857. Soon after the first war of independence when the Muslims who were actively involved in the 'mutiny' were targeted by British, the stream of migration started. The Hindu populace in Maharashtra had welcomed them with open arms and helped in settling the 'baaghis'.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Muslims from UP working in Maharashtra towns including Mumbai return to their homestate every year. For the last several years they were returning back with the tales of horror at the hands ofMaharashtra police. This had set the anti-Congress mood in UP amongst Muslims.

Congress was always seen as a party Muslims would vote due to lack of alternative. But recent elections have shown that not just in UP but other states as well Muslims are no longer ready to be treated as a ryot of the party.