Will SP-AIMIM face-off leave Byculla voters divided?
AIMIM's Waris Pathan was the only Muslim candidate from a major party in 2014, but this year SP's Rais Shaikh will tap into the minority votes as well
The face-off between Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Rais Shaikh and sitting MLA and AIMIM candidate Waris Pathan is likely to create a divide among the Muslim voters in the Byculla constituency for the upcoming state Assembly elections. With the Congress keen on fighting the Byculla seat, Shaikh and Pathan will also have to compete with two-time Congress MLA Madhu Chavan and Shiv Sena candidate Yamini Jadhav.
Back in 2014, Pathan was the only Muslim candidate from a major political party in the fray and had defeated BJP's Madhu Chavan by 1,357 votes. This year, however, SP's Shaikh will also tap into the minority vote-bank. Pathan, however, doesn't see Shaikh as a competitor. When asked about the division of Muslim votes, he said, "My fight is only with the Sena candidate in this constituency. Over the past five years, I have raised issues and fought for the minority community's development. Our party has been their voice. We are confident that people will support us once again."
Waris Pathan. File pics
During talks between the Congress and SP, the former had agreed to a friendly fight for the Byculla constituency. However, SP later insisted that they be allowed to contest from the segment alone, a demand Congress wasn't ready to accept. "We want the Byculla seat. We don't want a friendly fight and have told the Congress that there will be no alliance with them without it. Shaikh is the sitting corporator there and he has worked hard to get people's support unlike AIMIM, which hasn't done any work over the past five years," said Abu Azmi, president of Maharashtra state branch of SP.
However, Mumbai Congress president Eknath Gaikwad said they would not let go Byculla. Chavan, who has been an MLA for two terms, is confident of winning his third. "No MLA in this constituency has won two consecutive terms. In the last elections, I lost by a few thousand votes. AIMIM has failed the public and this time, both Muslim and Hindu votes will come to the Congress," he said. Even though the Sena has never won in Byculla, standing committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav is very confident that his wife and former corporator Yamini Jadhav would win the seat as they have played an active role in the area.
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