The Hyderabad-based Majli-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) on Sunday notched three stunning victories in the Maharashtra assembly polls and was leading in a fourth constituency.
Bagging 25,314 votes, MIM's Warish Yusuf Pathan, a noted lawyer, won from Byculla in Mumbai, trouncing BJP strongman Madhukar G Chavan and Akhil Bharatiya Sena's Geeta Gawli.
MIM's Imtiyaz Jalik was elected from Aurangabad Central, defeating his nearest Shiv Sena rival Pradeep Jaiswal by 30,000 votes, said party spokerperson Danish Reyaz.
"I see a strong chance of MIM winning some seats in Muslim populated pockets," Pathan had told HT two days before the polls, citing the thumping response to medical sops offered by his party. "We are the only minorities party talking about the upliftment of the community."
Even as political observers warned that MIM could eat into Muslim votes courtesy its provocative brand of politics, the victory came as a huge surprise as Byculla houses a large Marathi-speaking community. Surprisingly, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Madhukar Ganpat Chavan a lesser known face in the neighbourhood finished second leaving front-runners Sanjay Naik and Geeta Gawli on the third and fourth spot.
Political observers added that a series of campaigns by MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi played a pivotal role in turning tables at Byculla.
Madhukar Chavan, Byculla's Congress ex-legislator on defeat, said "MIM won because Hindu votes got split between four Marathi speaking candidates (MNS, ABS, BJP and Congress). The Muslim voters have won them the seat. But, this kind of religion induced mandate is harmful for democracy."
On BJP coming third, he said,"The BJP candidate had barely any presence in active politics. But, the Modi wave has earned them so many votes."
In Aurangabad East, MIM's Abdul Gaffar Kadari defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party's Atul More by over over 15,000 votes.
In Nanded South, MIM's Moin Akhtar was leading by over 4,000 votes over his nearest BJP rival Dilip Rao.
The party, headed by Asasuddin Owaisi, fielded 24 candidates in the state.