Muslim party, Shiv Sena coalition to rule the civic body

By staff reporter

Malegaon : Indian Muslim Congress Party or the Third Front, which emerged as the single largest party in civic polls with 26 seats in 72-member house, is all set to join hands with Shiv Sena in order to form a coalition on common grounds of development and progress. Interestingly, it is Shiv Sena and not the so-called secular Congress and Janata Dal (S) that offered to extend its support to this entirely new party led by the Imam of Jama Masjid and head of Jamia Islamia Madrasa.

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A not-so-open meeting between IMCP and Sena leaders was held Friday which proved to be inconclusive. But the two parties held the first open meeting here Saturday when IMCP conceded the Sena demand that the deputy mayor of the city would go to a Saffron candidate. They also decided that an IMCP delegation would call on the Sena supremo Bal Thackeray to discuss with him some important issues.

Thane Shiv Sena MLA Narlekar, Nasik Shiv Sena leader Sunil Bagel, Dabhadi MLA Dada Bhase, Sanjay Dasane, local Shiv Sena Pramukh Ramastri and IMCP president Mufti Muhammed Ismael Qasmi, Majeed Bakharwale, Abdul Aziz Muqadim, Saleem Apsara and Khursheed Pahalwan attended the two-hour long Saturday meeting in a cordial atmosphere.

Narlekar said Shiv Sena has offered to support the Front on the issues of development and progress of the town.

The 46-year-old Mufti Ismael said, "We have the confidence of the entire town. The Third Front will take a straightforward decision to fulfil the wishes of the voters by taking a lead in this new direction."

He said the desire to make a difference came after years of helplessly watching the neglect.

Political observers are of the view that the Third Front will succeed in capturing power in its very first attempt; for, in the emerging chemistry of local politics the coalition is all set to cross the magic mark of 37 in the 72-member Malegaon Municipal Corporation with Third Front 26 seats, Shiv Sena 7, Nav Nirman Sena 2 and Independents 2 seats.

The IMCP lost around 13 seats by margins as low as five to 13 votes. However, despite being a front of Ulema and Muslim community leaders, the party gained the ground on the issue of vikas and bhaichara (brotherhood) in the communally sensitive textile town, where around 75 per cent of the estimated six lakh residents are Muslims.