Some notes on MIM Assembly success in Maharashtra with tales of monkey and rabbit

By Pramod Mandade,

One week after the Maharashtra assembly election results I went to my village in Latur district (Marathwada). AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) won two seats one in Aurangabad and another in Mumbai plus they took considerable votes in many other places.

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A young man, a farmer, from my village in Latur, asked me, “Do know this Muslim party? They have won two seats.”

I said, “I know of them, they are quiet an old party; they are winning continuously for several years in Hyderabad. What about them?”

He said, “This MIM is anti-national”. “Zaleel” he said with a smirk, “the MLA who won from Aurangabad he is going to lose assembly seat”. (Instead of calling him Jaleel, he says Zaleel, which means- to insult someone).

Some notes on MIM Assembly success in Maharashtra with tales of monkey and rabbit

I asked him, “why?”

He replied, “He has two wives and five children and the election commission is going to take an action against him”.

As evidence he shows me a message which was viral on mobiles and social networking sites, through which this content was circulating.


Election results were not unexpected, BJP (Bharatiya Janata party) emerged as the largest party followed by Shiv Sena. Both the parties are Hindu right wing parties; they have come to power with a clear majority in the state after 15 years. Yet the whole discussion was dominated by the unexpected rise of MIM in Maharashtra.

We were in Aurangabad from August onwards. We had followed closely, the elections in the city from the declaration of the candidates to election results. We had carefully looked at the Marathi and English news papers to follow the election campaign. Throughout the elections there was an absolute media block out on MIM. Except single column news that had appeared stating that MIM will be contesting for 24 seats in Maharashtra, Aurangabad being one of them. There was news coverage of even independent candidates and their campaigns but not single news featured on MIM.

We couldn’t follow Urdu media because of our own language limitations. But one of our conversations with a Muslim journalist, working with a leading Marathi newspaper, disclosed that the Urdu papers are keenly following and discussing about MIM. He added that even he has been reporting consistently about MIM and the elections but none of his reportage saw the light of the next day’s newspaper.

The division of Urdu and other language(s) news media is not just a divide of language, but of two worlds.

The journalist further added “There is one newspaper, Sham-e-Rahbar that comes out with a column dedicated to the issue of political prisoners. Many people buy the paper for that particular column, it is really popular. But then it is only our people who write; our people only who read it, we only laugh and become angry with our own selves.”

After election results everybody from Barkha Dutt to Jyoti Punyani suddenly realised ‘the rise of communal MIM and the fanatic Muslim’.

How did this happen? What is that MIM has offered to the Muslims? Why the Muslims ‘suddenly’ voted for the ‘communal’ MIM?

Assauddin Owaisi came to Aurangabad for the election campaign. Campaign rally was held at Aam-khas maidan. The Huge ground filled up eventually, all the roads going towards the ground were blocked by the crowd. There were very few women, all the men had come out, we also joined them. We were with the crowd but easily visible as outsiders.

In the whole jalsa from the beginning to the end, people were responding to the speakers, clapping enthusiastically and even asking questions. They shared anger, laughter and the silences too.

It was biggest rally in this campaign held in Aurangabad, people had gathered in a huge number to listen to Owaisi. After the rally people were saying that patang ki hawa chal rahi hai is baar…(The wind is blowing in the direction of the kite, kite; the election symbol of MIM). Everybody in the city was comparing that rally with 1980’s Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena rally.

Next day we opened news papers with lots of expectations but the papers were totally blank. Forget that they would mention what Owasi spoke of in the rally, in the newspapers the rally itself never happened. For this media they did not exist.

So it is important to know that what Assauddin Owaisi and MIM were talking to the people. He started his speech by emphasizing the Dalit-Muslim unity. He said, “I have come here not to entertain you, I want you to ask questions to all the candidates who knock at your doors to ask for your vote”. Then he listed out questions about education, toilets, unemployment, deprivation and discrimination using different government reports.

Apart from these questions, he spoke about political prisoners and fake terrorist cases. He asked for justice to those who are in jail without trials. He said if they are guilty then state should punish them but you cannot put them behind bars for years without trial. We realised that how big and vital this issue is. No party has raised political prisoners and fake terrorist cases as an election issue.

He said that if MIM wins, there won’t be some sudden dramatic change, but he assured that their party will definitely raise these questions. Assauddin Owaisi and MIM assured the people, honest representation. Shiv Sena, BJP and MIM won one seat each from Aurangabad.

Two days after the election result we met a political science professor. He said, “No radical change is going to happen. MIM has just won two seats. I don’t understand why suddenly all the people are talking about MIM? Three years back they had contested Nanded municipal election and emerged as the opposition party. When Thackeray keeps on proclaiming Vidhan sabhe var Bhagava zenda fadkava (raise the saffron flag over the assembly) we don’t think or feel that it is objectionable but in same language if MIM speak we are threatened. Why is it that we feel so threatened, we need to think about it?”

Further he added, “One of my well educated friends was celebrating the result, by putting green colour on his face. I asked him whether it was right to use green colour. He replied that Muslims of Aurangabad are happy and it is after 30 years that they have come out on the streets to celebrate, I also want to share their happiness. I don’t know anything else.”

“My 10 year old son participated in election campaign; yesterday I saw his photo with Imtiyaz Jaleel, the one who has won. I am unable to understand what to feel about it.”


On the day of election result we were moving in the city. MIM’s celebrations started, only by the afternoon. I was near the counting office. Lots of people were standing there. From our language and appearance anyone could guess that we were not Muslims and also not from the city. I asked an old Muslim person about Gangadhar Gade, veteran Dalit panther activist who was supported by the MIM. He said “Gade sahab is running behind by a small margin. We all Muslims have voted for him but the Dalits have not”. Even though I knew that Gangadhar Gade had lost, but answer of the old person was important. It was interesting to encounter that even common people had the political insight into what MIM was trying to do, they realised the importance of building these alliances and were actively responding to it. Gade had got more than 35000 votes which was quite an impressive performance.

Then we walked towards place where MIM was celebrating their victory. It was a huge gathering and people were dancing and celebrating. Gathering was self disciplined and over cautious. Among the people some of the men were constantly overlooking and disciplining the others. After sometime when the police came, suddenly the whole environment became tense. You could easily see uneasiness on their faces, of both the police as well as the people. People started asking me not to click photos of the police.

After half an hour we walked ahead and started looking for an auto as we wanted to go towards east constituency from where BJP had won. At the rickshaw stand many autos were standing in a queue. Drivers were celebrating MIM’s victory. They told us that today was the day of celebration so nobody will work and they directed us to the way from where we would get an auto. We started moving towards east, the whole city was like a complete close down very few people were on the road, there was no traffic and the shops were also shut down. It was like successful boycott of something unwanted.

Some notes on MIM Assembly success in Maharashtra with tales of monkey and rabbit


In the evening we met an old and respected Dalit professor. We were talking about the assembly election results and its impact on coming municipal elections in the city. I asked him about Gade’s impressive performance in the elections, the panther MIM alliance and if it will affect the municipal elections in the city. He said, “It is only under the Dalit leadership that a Dalit-Muslim partnership can work-out”.

I asked, “why not under a Muslim leadership, why can’t the alliance work?”

“It is a question of our nationalism” He answered.

I did not know what to ask after that. It was like a slap.


For dinner we went to Buddy line, an old Muslim locality of Aurangabad. After the dinner we were walking back when I saw a bakery on the road. I walked into it to buy some bread for the next day. An old Muslim man who was sitting at the counter gave me the bread. I brought up the election result and he answered in plain voice by saying BJP, Shiv Sena and MIM won one seat each. Mubarak ho, I congratulated him. His eyes suddenly brightened up for a moment, I took my bread and left the shop. We had just walked a few steps when a young boy came towards us and handed us a small cake. I was extremely happy to share their happiness and I felt that it was a historic day for the city.

Assauddin Owaisi in middle of his speech started talking in Deccani Urdu and left the numbers and the reports behind. People cheered as they knew what he was about to talk. People started asking him to tell them the story of Bandar and Khargosh (the monkey and the rabbit). He started the story; “All animals in jungle decided to elect their leader through an election but question was, who will challenge the Sher (lion). The rabbit was smart; he asked the monkey to contest and assured him support. Monkey really started believing that he can defeat the lion. Other animals elected him as the leader and went to lion to tell him of their decision. The Lion listened to all of this and then roared loudly, all the animals ran away and the monkey was left alone, he turned back to look for the rabbit and found him running ahead of all the others”.

People were clapping, laughing and responding as everyone knew the story. They knew who the Khargosh is and even who the Bandar is. Even though we had been following the election campaign closely, but we couldn’t understand the story.

I felt a huge distance between me and the story of the khargosh and Bandar. I felt the same or rather more distance when I read the articles and commentary on MIM after the election result; the pitting of Owasi against BJP, looking at Thackeray and Owiasi brothers together, looking at MIM as a result of the rise of Hindutva and failure of secularists etc. The distance that I experienced between the people in the rally and myself, was confirmed by ‘our’ response to MIM.

This is not a claim about whether MIM is secular or not, I haven’t even entered that discussion yet. I feel before we even start that discussion we need to rethink and review our engagement with the people, politics and secularism.


(A graduate from Tata institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Pramod Mandade is currently working on 1948 Hyderabad massacre as an independent researcher.)