After a spectacular showing in the state assembly elections, the hardline All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is trying to forge a grand socio-political coalition with Dalit parties for the elections to municipal bodies, including the BMC.Dalits and Muslims together constitute over 24% of Maharashtra’s population. The AIMIM, which is led by Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi and his younger brother and Telangana MLA Akbaruddin, is trying to step into the void created by the demolition of most mainstream Dalit leaders in electoral politics and attract followers from these communities. The rainbow coalition will also help the party reach out to other social sections in an attempt to overcome its image of being a Muslim-centric party.”We are planning a strong, formidable alliance with Dalit parties… for the local body elections in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Aurangabad,” Imtiaz Jaleel, AIMIM MLA from Aurangabad Central, told dna. “Already, almost every Dalit party has spoken to us,” said Jaleel, adding that however, they were insistent on these parties contesting the elections under the AIMIM’s kite symbol. The AIMIM has its roots in the ‘Razakars’ who supported the Nizam of Hyderabad and resisted the state’s integration into India.He claimed that during the party’s rally at Beed on Monday to press for Muslim reservations, a number of Dalits had met Asaduddin and expressed their support. Similarly, they were also getting response from other sections like OBCs, claimed Jaleel.Indicating a massive anger against “secular” parties like the Congress, two AIMIM nominees — Jaleel and Waris Pathan from Byculla — were elected to the assembly from Muslim-dominated seats. The AIMIM also plans to encash the disenchantment in Muslims and make headway in the polls to the cash-rich BMC. For a political opening in the 2017 civic elections, the party is trying to expand at the ward level and build up a strong organisational structure on lines of arch political foe Shiv Sena.Though Muslims form around 10.6% of Maharashtra’s population, just 2.2% have completed graduation. The percentage of women graduates is at an even lesser 1.4% and over half (59.4%) of Muslims are below the poverty line in urban areas, while the figure is marginally higher in the hinterlands at 59.8%. Community leaders say Muslims, especially the youth, feel “used” by mainstream “secular” parties like the Congress, which has led to support for the AIMIM.This is not the first time that a Dalit-Muslim coalition has been attempted. In the 1980s, Dalit leader Jogendra Kawade had joined alleged smuggler Haji Mastan Mirza to form the Dalit Muslim Suraksha Mahasangh. Recently, the Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP) supported by Waman Meshram’s All India Backward (SC, ST, OBC) and Minority Communities Employees’ Federation (BAMCEF) faction, had tried to field German Bakery blasts accused Mirza Himayat Beg from Aurangabad in the Lok Sabha polls.
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