Muslim-Dalit votes put MIM in spotlight

The much-discussed Muslim-Dalit combination seems to be paying dividends to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in Maharashtra, as the party came up with an impressive performance in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation elections, jumping to the number-two spot ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In the 113-seat Corporation, the MIM won 25 seats, the winners including four Dalits and one Other Backward Class member, also a Hindu. Several of its Dalit candidates lost by thin margins.

“We have always been with Dalits and were never a Muslim-only party. Wherever we could, we have given a legitimate share of power to Dalit members from the party, and it will continue even in Maharashtra,” Imtiyaz Jaleel, party MLA from Aurangabad, said.

Not first attempt

This is not the first attempt time in Maharashtra to bring Dalits and Muslims on one political platform. In the 1980s, Dalit leader Jogendra Kawade and former Don Haji Mastan joined hands in one such exercise, but it did not work out.

The Nanded municipal election was the entry point of the MIM in Maharashtra. In the 2014 Assembly election, the party stunned everyone when two of its candidates were elected — one from Aurangabad and the other from Byculla in Mumbai. However, in the recent Bandra (East) by-election in Mumbai, the party could not even save its deposit, despite a sizeable Muslim population in the constituency, giving rise to speculation that the MIM has lost its appeal. However, the municipal results have once again proved many wrong.

Political observers say the “absolute bankruptcy” of today’s Dalit leadership in the State is to blame for the possible rise of the MIM. “Ambitious and awakened Dalit youth are trying to explore options. If today, Dalits are seen aligning with the BJP and the Sena or with the MIM, it is mainly because they were never given due recognition when they were with secular and democratic forces,” said Surendra Jondhale, Professor and Head, Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai.

Commenting on the Congress, he said that apart from losing electoral relevance, the Congress is losing its political relevance. “There is a huge trust deficit,” he said.

The Shiv Sena, which was engaged in a verbal war with the MIM, sounded cautious on Friday. “If Dalits too start supporting the party that was originally made for Muslims, it will be dangerous not only for social unity but for the Ambedkarite movement as well,” an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamna said.

Even the Republican Party of India of Ramdas Athawale, which is in an alliance with the BJP and the Sena, is worried and is blaming the saffron alliance for repeating the Congress’s mistakes.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 1:00:27 AM |

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