This couple from Mumbai has filed nomination to contest presidential elections | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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This couple from Mumbai has filed nomination to contest presidential elections

Mumbai city news: Over the years, Mohammad has pursued issues related to rehabilitation of slum dwellers and burnt the effigies of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab

mumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2017 09:26 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Mohammad Patrel and Saira Patel at their Andheri (West) home.
Mohammad Patrel and Saira Patel at their Andheri (West) home.(HT Photo)

Mohammad Abdul Hamid Patel, 55, and Saira Bano, 52, from suburban Mumbai have become the first couple ever to have filed nominations to contest India’s presidential elections.

Neither Mohammad nor Saira has a realistic chance of, forget about winning, even remaining in the contest once the nominations are scrutinised on June 30 for the July 17 election, the result of which will be announced on July 20.

Rules state that 50 MPs or MLAs must propose a candidate’s name and 50 more must second the candidature. Neither Mohammad nor Saira are likely to manage this.

However, Mohammad is undeterred. He says once the current election is over, he plans to file a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an end to the condition that 100 MPs and MLAs must support a candidature. “This hinders the independence of the office,” he adds.

When HT visited the Patel home at Sagar City Enclave at Gilbert Hill in Andheri (West) on Friday, a couple of hours after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, filed his nomination, Mohammad had finished his afternoon prayers and was taking a nap. Saira was in the kitchen, preparing food for the impending Iftar. The spacious 2BHK flat was quiet, the TV was turned off on account of Ramzan, and the couple’s younger son, Imtiaz, was busy preparing for his Bsc IT exams. The Patel’s older son is an engineer in Qatar.

Many of those who have seen Mohammad over the years pursuing issues related to rehabilitation of slum dwellers or burning effigies of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab — months before he filed papers for the 2012 presidential polls — would say the social worker-cum-politician seldom missed any opportunity to grab the headlines. And he has found a soulmate in Saira .

A decade-and-a-half back, he fought the municipal elections from ward 73 on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket and lost by a slender margin of 600 votes. In the next election, Saira contested from the same constituency and lost. They then took a break from electoral politics.

“The beauty of Indian democracy is that it not only gives an opportunity to a chaiwala to become the Prime Minister, but also guarantees an equal chance to ordinary citizens such as us,” says Mohammad.

The Patels filed their nominations in New Delhi on June 16. (HT Photo)

“Through my nomination, I want to convey a message to the Muslim world that in India even a burkha-clad woman has every right to become the first citizen of the country,” Saira adds.

“Power politics is all about money. Dedication or hard work does not matter when it comes to allotting tickets in political parties, without exception,” says Mohammad . Explaining why he filed a nomination for the presidential polls, he says , “Here you don’t have to buy a ticket.” 

The Patels both made the customary deposit of Rs15,000 while filing their nominations before the returning officer Anup Mishra in New Delhi on June 16.

What does Mohammad propose to do if voted to the highest office? “I will finish militancy in Kashmir, which is the biggest internal problem the country is facing. Within 24 hours of assuming office, I will teach Pakistan a lesson and settle the Kashmir problem for good,” he says.

Saira chips in, “Through my nomination, I have already set a precedent for Muslim women in the country. If I am elected, I will seek to recruit more women into the armed forces and put them in combat roles. I will see to it that women are in no way inferior to men when it comes to defending the nation.”

However, both Mohammad, who works in a construction company, and Saira, who used to be a nurse at Bombay Hospital, are aware that their chances are slim. “We were hopeful until the opposition named Meira Kumar, “ they say.