Muslim, Dalit candidates virtually wiped out in Maharashtra


Mumbai : In an unprecedented development, Muslim and Dalit candidates have been practically wiped out in the Lok Sabha elections from Maharashtra.

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In a setback to the minorities, not a single Muslim candidate has won from any of the 48 seats that went to the polls in the state, causing embarrassment among the Congress- Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) circles who have traditionally thrived on their support and are otherwise leading in 26 seats.

In these polls, a total of 15 Muslim candidates were fielded by the mainstream parties. They included one each from the Congress and NCP, four from the Samajwadi Party (SP), nine from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Another dozen odd Muslims were put up by smaller parties or independents.

Prominent Muslim bigwigs like union Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay (Raigad) and Samajwadi Party state president Abu Asim Azmi (Mumbai North-West), and well-known cleric, Maulana Sayed Athar Ali (Mumbai South), lost the elections.

Similarly, the NCP’s Azam Pansare lost from Pune.

Of the nine candidates put by the BSP, prominent leaders like Mohammed Ali Shaikh (Mumbai South) and Haji Ibrahim alias Bhaijaan (Mumbai North-Central) lost to the Congress.

In a similar vein, top Dalit and backward communiy leaders – barring Congress’ Sushilkumar Shinde (Sholapur) – have also lost out in their attempt to enter parliament this time around.

The prominent losers included Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale (Shirdi); Prakash Ambedkar (Akola), who is the the grandson of B.R. Ambedkar; and Rajendra Gavai (Amravati), who is the son of Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai.

Apart from Shinde, the Congress has the victory of senior state party leader and Dalit face Jayawant Awale who bagged the Latur (reserved) constituency, the home district of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

In Palghar in the northern Konkan belt, Bahujan Samaj Aghadi’s Baliram Jadhav, also a Dalit, won with the backing of the Vasai Vikas Aghadi of Hitendra Thakur, a local toughie.

From among the results declared so far, 10 were won by the Congress, four by the NCP, five by the Bharatiya Janta Party, three by the Shiv Sena and one by the others category.