AIMIM’s lone Lok Sabha victor from Maharashtra
For Imtiaz Jaleel, to be a story himself was not new. After all, the former television journalist was first in the spotlight when he won the Maharashtra assembly elections during his debut political inning in 2014.
Five years later, Jaleel, 46, has hit national headlines as he wrested a difficult Aurangabad seat from four-time Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire by a slim margin of 4,000+ votes.
The correct caste combination and precautions not to split votes on religious lines helped Jaleel win the Lok Sabha seat that he fought on the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) ticket. The AIMIM is a constituent of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), an alliance of smaller outfits.
Independent candidate and former Sena MLA from Kannad, Harshawardhan Jadhav, made Jaleel’s victory easier as he cut into Khaire’s votebank.
The VBA lost most seats, including Akola and Solapur which it’s founder Prakash Ambedkar had contested from. Jaleel’s victory therefore was a major consolation for the alliance which garnered around 35 lakh votes and contributed in the defeat of Congress candidates at multiple places by splitting votes.
In Aurangabad, Jaleel’s campaign touched local issues such as garbage management, traffic and road infrastructure.
“By not raking up national issues and shunning criticism of Narendra Modi, Jaleel avoided polarisation of votes on religious lines. And a split in the votes going to Khaire, and AIMIM’s alliance with VBA ensured that he gets votes from Dalits and deprived communities,” said Chitra Lele, professor, political science, SNDT University.
Jaleel polled 3,89,042 votes while Khaire got 3,84,550 votes in a bitterly-fought contest.
The presence of Harshawardhan Jadhav, son-in-law of BJP state unit chief Raosaheb Danve, in the poll fray, ensured there was a split in the saffron votes. Jadhav, who had resigned as Shiv Sena MLA from Kannad during the Maratha reservation agitation, polled 2,83,798 votes.
Most votes that Jadhav got, according to observers, were from Marathas as he actively participated in the Maratha reservation protests. These votes, in Jadhav’s absence in the fray, would have gone to Khaire, said observers.
“I got votes from all the communities as I contested on issues concerning people. The voters in Aurangabad were fed up with their MP (Khaire) as he failed to solve basic issues,” said Jaleel.
Khaire on his part had sensed immediately after the polling was over that victory may not be easy for the fifth time. Khaire even wrote to BJP national president Amit Shah saying Danve worked for his son-in-law during the campaign, an allegation that the BJP state unit chief denied.
For Jaleel, it was a deja vu moment as he defeated heavyweight Khaire, five years after his victory over then sitting Shiv Sena legislator Pradeep Jaiswal by a margin of around 20,000 votes during the assembly polls