The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) faces a bleak future after its lack lustre performance in the recently concluded Mumbai and Thane civic polls. The party was expected to make a mark in its debut Mumbai and Thane civic elections, but collectively secured just two seats at both the places.
Its popular leader Waris Pathan — who represents Byculla — was unable to get a single corporator elected from his constituency.
The reasons include lack of credible candidates, infighting among party leaders, low morale among cadres, fewer rallies by the Owaisi brothers (party heads) and the lack of enthusiasm among its supporters.
In contrast, the Samajwadi Party (SP), whom the AIMIM aimed to displace by wooing the Muslim vote-bank, was able to save its face by getting six members in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Its state chief Abu Azmi was able to get five members elected from his Shivaji Nagar constituency.
According to political experts, AIMIM tends to thrive in a religious polarised environment, which was not the case this time. “Here, the main fight was between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. Hence, the AIMIM did not stand a chance. The Muslims, in fact, voted for the Sena at several places, as the party got two Muslims elected on its ticket,” said political analyst Prakash Bal.
Rehbar Khan, a prominent AIMIM leader from Bandra, who was able to get his wife Mumtaz elected as an Independent, said that local leaders wreaked havoc. “Leaders who came in from other parties were favoured, while the loyal workers were sidelined,” said Rehbar. “Party workers too lacked enthusiasm they shoed during the 2014 assembly elections.”
Also, the Supreme Court judgment in January, where it called seeking votes in the name of religion a corrupt practice, played a dampener for the AIMIM.
A Congress leader said that even Akbaruddin Owaisi’s speeches lacked punch. “The speeches were toned down and lacked energy that’s why it did not translate into votes. AIMIM took the Muslim votes for granted and this was their undoing. In addition, its leaders hardly attended to the voters’ needs and were busy seeking publicity,” he said.
However, AIMIM legislator Waris Pathan dismissed the allegations saying that the party performed well. “We secured two seats on our debut and even our voting percentage is intact. The Congress-NCP and SP joined hands and conspired against us,” he said.