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In Maharashtra, Muslims mobilized specifically to defeat BJP, with AIMPLB, mosques leading the charge: Here’s how it all happened

Before the polls, Islamists in the Pune region issued fatwas against the BJP and asked the Muslim voters to vote only for the candidates representing Congress, NCP (Sharad Pawar), and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) from the Pune, Shirur, Baramati and Mawal constituencies respectively.

The results of the current Lok Sabha Elections were wild in the state of Maharashtra with the Muslims extending support to parties other than BJP. The ruling party could not cross the majority mark in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections on its own due to massive losses in some states including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. In a surprise outcome in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena led by CM Eknath Shinde secured 7 seats, and BJP won 9 seats, whereas parties like NCP (Sharad Pawar), Indian National Congress, and Shiv Sena (UBT) who garnered Muslim and Communist support secured 8, 13 and 9 seats respectively. It is clearly evident by this that the Muslims in the state of Maharashtra chose to vote for any party standing against the BJP and its allies.

Dy CM Devendra Fadnavis immediately offered to resign after the results taking responsibility for the massive loss. “Whatever loss we suffered in the LS polls in Maharashtra, I take full responsibility for it. Therefore, I urge the top leadership to relieve me of my ministerial duties for I need to work for the party and contribute my time to the preparations of the state assembly polls,” Fadnavis said.

“Farmers’ issues played a dominant role in some seats. Also, the false propaganda that the constitution would be altered impacted some voters. The votes of the Muslims and the Maratha community also had an impact,” he added. He meanwhile also indicated that Muslims extended support to INC, Shiv Sena (UBT), and NCP (Sharad Pawar) leading to unfavourable results for the BJP.

‘Fatwas helped Shiv Sena (UBT) win seats in Mumbai’: Deepak Kesarkar

Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra minister Deepak Kesarkar, a loyalist of chief minister Eknath Shinde also stated on June 6th that it was because of ‘fatwas’ issued by Muslims against BJP that Shiv Sena (UBT) and INC, NCP (Sharad Pawar) could secure majority of the seats, even from Mumbai, Sangli, Baramati, Shirur and Dindori.

He claimed Muslim voters were convinced that Uddhav Thackeray had forsaken the Hindutva ideology. “The fatwas helped Shiv Sena (UBT) win seats in Mumbai. If you deduct that, every Shiv Sena candidate would have been defeated by over 1-1.5 lakh votes,” Kesarkar was quoted as saying.

He further asserted that Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena had gained the votes of Mumbaikars and Marathi voters. He claimed that a scheme was hatched in Pakistan to discredit Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Two ministers in Pakistan advocated for Modi’s defeat and, regrettably, some individuals here paid heed to their calls,” he claimed.

Kesarkar further stated that the Opposition misled the Dalit communities with their false claim that the Constitution would be changed if Narendra Modi came to power again. Given this, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Muslims actually stood to support the parties standing against the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections 2024.

Fatwas issued in Pune against BJP, Shiv Sena (Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar)

On 7th May it was reported that Islamists in the Pune region issued fatwas against the BJP and asked the Muslim voters to vote only for the candidates representing Congress, NCP (Sharad Pawar), and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) from the Pune, Shirur, Baramati and Mawal constituencies respectively. The declaration by the Islamist leaders was made at the ‘Taqreer By Hazrat Maulana Sajjad Nomani’ event organized by Kul Jamati Tanzeem Pune in the Kondwa region on 2nd May.

The video of the same had gone viral over the internet, and one of the organizers of the event could be seen announcing its unwavering support to the Congress and NCP Sharad Pawar faction. “Kul Jamati Tanzeem has decided to extend support to Ravindra Dhangekar from Pune representing Congress, Supriya Sule and Amol Kolhe from Baramati and Shirur representing NCP Sharad Pawar faction, and Sanjay Waghere from Maval representing Shiv Sena (UBT). We support these four candidates and appeal to you all community members to please get them elected to power. Also, ask your family members and friends to vote for them,” the organizer could be heard saying in the video.

The declaration was made at an event which was hosted in honor of Maulana Sajjad Nomani who spoke on the topic ‘Maujuda Halat Aur Hamari Zimmedari’ (the current situation and our responsibility). During his speech, Nomani stated that every Muslim who is a voter today should exercise his right in favor of the community. He also instilled fear in the minds of the Muslims saying that if Modi came to power, all the Mazars and Madarsas would be razed to the ground.

“If you don’t exercise your right in the correct direction, your nation is such that it will forget the Rohingyas. The leader of this country has a plan to put an end to the Waqf system in this country. It is you who will save our Madarsas and Masjids and Mazars. This one plan of Modi is going to cause danger to the entire Muslim community,” Nomani could be seen instigating the Muslims against the government.

Islamic flags raised at Mumbai rally hosted by Shiv Sena (UBT)

Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Uddhav Thackeray a couple of years ago refused to hold on to the Hindutva ideology established by his father and old Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray, breaking the ties with Eknath Shinde and his faction who formed a new Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) siding BJP. Since then, Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and his party have been eyeing their support from the Muslim community. The party leaders have been keeping mum or ‘handling well’ the issues raged against the Muslim community, a few instances being the 2020 Palghar mob lynching incident or MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s threat of reciting Hanuman Chalisa if the relaying of azaan on loudspeakers was not stopped.

Some such incidents are believed to have worked in favor of Uddhav Thackeray who secured 9 seats even after contesting without the traditional symbol of Shiv Sena viz a bow and an arrow. Notably, on 14th May OpIndia reported how Islamic flags were raised by the Islamists at the rally which was hosted by Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2024.

The video of the flag made rounds on social media. The green-colored flag with a crescent moon and a five-point star at the center was raised during the UBT Sena rally. As seen in the video, the Muslim supporters and presumably the Shiv Sena (UBT) party workers burst firecrackers and cheered the masses as the Islamic flag was being raised and waved up high in the air.

Meanwhile, BJP’s Nitesh Rane had slammed the Shiv Sena (UBT) party and had indicated that former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray had no right to call himself the son of Hindu leader Balasaheb Thackeray. He claimed that the Pakistani flag was raised at the rally. However, later it was confirmed that the flag raised in the rally was an Islamic flag and not a Pakistani one.

Communist Red Flags raised in UBT’s rally

Also, in April 2024, several red flags representing communist support were raised at one of the rallies that was organized by Uddhav Thackeray and his faction. The image of the same had gone viral over the internet with netizens slamming Thackeray for disrespecting Hindutva ideology.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray had meanwhile also announced that he would never again merge with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying they were “treacherous” and would lose the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Thackeray’s assertion reportedly had come days after the PM asked Sharad Pawar-led NCP and Shiv Sena (UBT) to join hands with Ajit Pawar and Eknath Shinde.

Conclusion

Muslims in Mumbai are working for Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena with a zeal that has not been seen since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept them aside. At the time, a panicked Congress, aware of the Muslims’ dissatisfaction with it, invoked the specter of Gujarat 2002 to scare them into not dividing their votes. The plan worked; however, Muslim youth, delighted by a party that recognized them not as a vote bank but as equal citizens, pushed themselves into the campaigns of the 48 AAP candidates in Maharashtra.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition received Maharashtra’s Muslim vote by default, despite the fact that it was not in the minds of Muslims. By then, lynchings and the ruling party’s facilitation of lynch mobs had become common. There was no choice but to vote for the party that stood up against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), even if its presence on the ground appeared to be non-existent, such as the Congress in Maharashtra. The party won one seat in the state it ruled for the past 15 years.

This time, however, the I.N.D.I.A. alliance has become the obvious alternative not only for Muslims but for all those opposed to the BJP. As if the Muslims and the anti-BJP individuals had some particular theme to follow, ‘Candidate toh majboori hai, India Alliance zaruri hai.’

Muslim voters overwhelmingly supported parties like as INC, NCP (Sharad Pawar), and Shiv Sena (UBT), despite the lack of a single Muslim I.N.D.I.A. bloc candidate.The I.N.D.I Alliance even failed to launch campaigns jointly, not only in Maharashtra but across the country, yet voters who believed in ‘secularism’ supported the I.N.D.I. Alliance due to their strong opposition to the BJP and PM Modi. In the coming years, people, particularly non-Muslims, who tend to support the NCP (Sharad Pawar), Shiv Sena (UBT), and INC who obtained positions based on Muslim votes would understand what a mistake they made in an endeavor to simply wrestle against the BJP.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani is known for her satirical and factual hand in Economic, Social and Political writing. Having completed her post graduation in Journalism, she is pursuing her Masters in Politics. The author meanwhile is also exploring her hand in analytics and statistics. (Twitter- @sidis28)

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