Home India Politics Lok Sabha elections: Mumbai Muslims yet to make up mind

Lok Sabha elections: Mumbai Muslims yet to make up mind

By Abdul Hameed, TwoCircles.net,

‘My vote will go to the party which will give us money. Last time I voted for Congress but this year money will matter when choosing the symbols,’ says a 22-year-old Farooq Husain of Nagpada, Mumbai and a group of youths around applauds him.

They are not the only group clueless about the significance of their vote, a considerable number of Muslims do not have any clear vision as to what role they can play in the elections. While many of them are resolving not to cast vote others are taking it casually. Of course, some consider it a great opportunity for electing good candidates for the Parliament.

These trends emerged in a survey conducted by TwoCircles.net in Mumbai with nearly one and a half months left to the voting day in the city.

‘Our right to vote is the best means to attain sovereignty. This is the only way we can entrust authority to a candidate or party which caters to our demands and gives our rights,’ says Muhammad Ameen, 70, a resident of Dongri in Mumbai adding ‘I will prefer the party that will work for minorities and can solve our problems of ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’ (Bread, clothes and dwelling). We have a lot of freedom in Congress rule. I think this is the party to be voted for.’

Like Ameen, many people want the candidate who takes care of local issues; water supply, cleanliness and better education and infrastructure. Therefore, a candidate promising social work especially for Muslim community is likely to get their votes.

Firoz Ahmad, 35, who resides in Shivaji Nagar of Govandi, complains absence of basic infrastructure in his area. ‘Our region witnesses negligence towards waste management, cleanliness and road infrastructure. Water supply is a great problem. The party such as Samajwadi Party that will talk of making available these facilities I will vote it.’ He further says that our youths cannot emerge triumphant in competition due to lack of qualification. ‘I think the parties should make it an issue to open guidance centers for Muslim students intended to go ahead in education after HSC.’
Muhammad Javed, 35 of Dongri believes Congress will work towards cleaning their streets, roads and gutters and reduce their taxes. ‘I will vote for Congress as it helps us meet our necessities,’ he says confidently.

Some voters still undecided will vote only the candidate who may rise above promises and work for the Muslim community. They mention some persons possibly to be nominated candidates and count their social works. ‘After political parties launch their campaigns we will see which candidate promises to assist Muslims solve their problems, solve out water problem, repair old buildings and most importantly help us benefit from the government schemes. The one perfect to our criteria will get our votes,’ says Abdus Samad, 65, residing in Nishanpada Road.

‘Given the situation of the country we should vote for Congress. Our votes should not go in vain. The candidate whom we send to the Parliament can do nothing if his party is not in power,’ advises Professor Ansar Azmi while saying, ‘Who I will vote I want it to remain a secret.’ He adds, ‘Our vote should be for a secular party that does not forge alliance with a communal one after elections.’

But Sadr-e-Alam of Shivaji Nagar in Govandi Mumbai is tired of daily problems of water and is angry that there is no degree college even in vicinity. He is ready to elect anyone who may put an end to their problems even though he is from communal parties. ‘Muslims in Shivaji Nagar are fed up with Congress and SP. Our present Congress MP did little for us. We Muslims are waiting for any third face. The councilors and MLAs of Shiv Sena do a lot in terms of basic amenities.’

However, Ahmad Husain, who runs a small shop of buns and eggs, talks of a national, rather international issue of ‘inflation’. He says that the party catering to the issue will deserve their votes. ‘The opinion is not exclusive to me rather it represents the people residing here at Nishanpada Road (Dongri). Often, the women return from market and buy buns from me on credit after narrating how their estimated budget fell short due to soaring prices of goods. I give them buns and eggs on credit because they are my neighbors who at earliest repay the money.’ As a solution to the problem, he suggests the government to provide the farmers seeds, irrigation facilities and fertilizers etc. on low price so that more products may check inflation.

The most disturbing matter Muslims are facing nowadays is the biased war on terror. They are being victimized in the name of combating terrorism, says Muhammad Nazim. He is concerned about it and is in search of someone who may rescue the community out of it. He is anxious as there is no one to pay heed to him neither in the municipality nor in the police department. He sees Muhammad Ali Shaikh (the BSP south Mumbai nominee for Lok Sabha election) can do something in this regard as he has already done many social works.

‘I think Muhammad Ali is the best person to get our votes. He has done a lot of services for poor Muslims and Dalits. While earlier he has financially assisted medical and engineering college he plans to give every poor one lakh rupees for home.’

These are the ones whose hope in politics still remains. But Muhammad Saleem of Mumbara who runs his business in Nagpada frankly says that every party is infested with self-interested persons who eye votes not people. ‘Tell which party deserves votes from us? None of the leaders come to our house after the elections. They do nothing for us.’ This is the reason, he says, he casts bogus vote. ‘I vote to ensure my name remains in the electoral roll so that I have a proof claim my citizenship in case someone brands me a foreigner,’ he says.

Same is the view of two other persons from Nagpada. They are very angry with the present political structure and the politicians and opine that to abstain from it is the only solution. ‘Politics is a hub of criminals and bad persons. A pious person always keeps himself away from politics in every manner possible,’ both say on condition of anonymity.

‘Since none of the parties consider our demands it is needless of thinking about voting them. Whether we vote or not the situation will remain the same,’ said twosome of Temkar Street of Nagpada adding. ‘Almost all the residents of the street have the same opinion.’