Ahead of the state Assembly polls, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi seems to be trying to make inroads in Gujarat via Surat’s two assembly constituencies – Limbayat and Surat-East, which comprises 35 to 40 per cent Muslim voters.
Owaisi has received a good response in Limbayat, however a small section of the community opposed his visit to the constituency by showing black flags while he was on his way to address a gathering on Monday.
The AIMIM leader has advocated for political weightage and representation for Muslims in the state “as like Patidars, Muslims in the state too share 14 per cent of the state’s population”.
Social activist M.S.H. Shaikh is of opinion that “present politics in the country is influenced by majoritarians or the Hindutva ideology and the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Congress have failed to give significant representation to Muslims, which is why AIMIM is trying to make space and Muslims are accepting it.”
“On two seats, Surat-East and Limbayat there is a very good chance, if Muslims remain united, they can win,” Shaikh believes.
“In the past elections, though good numbers of voters voted for the Congress, they could not make it. Owaisi can focus on these as well as Vagra, Bharuch, and other Muslim dominated seats,” he asserted.
“Owaisi is not getting support from local muslims, his party is getting support of Muslims from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal… local muslims believe in co-existence, they will never encourage hatred politics as their livelihood is dependent on co-existing with majority community,” says Aslam Cyclewala, a Congress leader from Surat.
According to Cyclewala, less than one per cent Muslims are supporting AIMIM, excluding 1992 riots, Surat has never witnessed communal tension, “the venue selected by AIMIM was were local Muslims are in large numbers, had the AIMIM organised such meeting in Katargam, where he has supporters, local muslims would have not opposed it”.
“He (Owaisi) spread hatred as like RSS and BJP, his hatred will disturb communal harmony and business relations with the majority community,” said Kalim Shahm, a social activist from Limbayat.
Shahm is the one who had led the group which protested against Owaisi. He argues that that their (Muslims) work or business is dependent on majority in the city, in such situation, hatred has no place.
However, disagreeing with these two, Shaikh strongly feels that there is a need of AIMIM like party to increase Muslims representation in the state as well as in Centre.