When Dilshad and Ashraf Azmi walk into the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters on March 9, they will be creating history in their own little way.
To begin with, the couple will be the only one in the corporation to have been elected as corporators this time around. To add to this, they will bring the number of people from their family who became corporators in the last five years to three, following in the footsteps of their sister and outgoing corporator Shazia Azmi.
Elected on Samajwadi Party (SP) tickets, both husband and wife are corporators from two neighbouring wards in Kurla (West) — ward no. 158 and 159. Both of them defeated their nearest Congress candidates to be elected as corporators.
What remains remarkable for Ashraf, a first-time corporator, is his margin and manner of winning.
Contesting against the outgoing Congress leader of the Opposition and now MLA Rajhans Singh’s son Nitesh, Ashraf was touted as an underdog. “The chief minister, MP Priya Dutt and even the Congress city chief Kripa Shankar Singh visited every household to request voters to support the Congress. Rajhans Singh tried every trick in the book to ensure that the locals voted for his son,” said Ashraf.
Beating all odds, Ashraf got 9,621 votes, more than the votes secured by all the other 16 candidates put together. He won with a thumping margin of more than 6,000 votes over Nitesh Singh.
His wife, Dilshad, however, won by a slim margin of 62 votes. When asked, Dilshad, a homemaker who has studied in a Madrassa, said, “It feels good to have my husband around. I had never even thought of joining politics till this opportunity came along.”
Ashraf admits that Dilshad’s candidature wasn’t planned. “My brother had been working in the ward and when it got reserved for women, we asked her to contest.” Ashraf, a civil contractor, also has plans for Dilshad. “She will be the face of this ward. However, my brother will be handling all the work.”
Their ten-year-old daughter Asma is over the moon. “She doesn’t really understand the reason behind all the hullabaloo in the house. But, she realises that her parents are the cynosure of all the attention and she loves it,” said Ashraf.