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25. Muslims in Behrampada voted in a pragmatic way


The Times of India
Mumbai, 2 March 1997
25. Muslims in Behrampada voted
in a pragmatic way
By Anil Singh

MUMBAI: Simply put, it was gutter-level politics, quite literally, which helped the Shiv Sena win the civic seat from Behrampada. The Sena was the only party which got the drains cleaned and had toilets built for the women of this Muslim-dominated slum in Bandra east.

Apart from their work in the area, a host of other factors went into ensuring the Sena�s victory in the slum which witnessed some of the bloodiest communal riots in December 1992-January 1993.

To begin with, the Muslim leadership in Behrampada was divided.  While one group favoured the Congress, the other sided with the Sena.

The Samajwadi Party, which performed so well in other Muslim pockets, did not put up a strong candidate in Behrampada. Its candidate, Naseem Khan, polled only 1,473 votes and finished fifth among the 14 contestants.

The Congress, which is not a cadre-based party like the Sena, never recovered from the setback it suffered when its MP, Sunil Dutt, withdrew from active politics. Although Mr. Dutt is popular in Behrampada, he has stopped visiting it, according to residents.

The sitting Congress corporator, Gulzar Sheikh, is a discredited man. However, he stood as an independent and cornered 1, 114 votes, finishing sixth. The Congress candidate, Nirmala Agarwal, was the sitting corporator from the adjoining ward. She was pitchforked into this ward because of the change in ward limits this time. Ms Agarwal got 2,111 votes and finished second to the Sena�s Virendra Jagade who got 6,829 votes.

The Republican Party of Indian (RPI), which did not have an alliance with the Congress this time, finished third.  Its candidate, Maruti Pawar, got 1,951 votes. The Janata Dal�s Ahmed Kadri finished fourth with 1,507 votes.

The only other candidate who got more than 500 votes was independent candidate and a Congress rebel, Pandurang Thorat.

While the Sena benefited from its alliance with the BJP, the Congress paid a heavy price for the lack of an alliance with the RPI and rebel candidates. The low turnout in ward no. 79, about 40 per cent, was another factor which affected the Congress.

As Behrampada accounts for nearly 20,000 of the 40,000 voters in ward no. 79, the Sena banked heavily on Muslim votes from this slum. Its workers went about wooing the Muslims meticulously under the leadership of local Sena MLA Shrikant Sarmalkar. He was a corporator from Behrampada from 1985 to 1992 and has a support base there.

Observers say that the Sena benefited from another source. Mohalla committee workers such as P. P. Jamkhedar and Sushobha Barve and senior police officers such as Satish Sahney and Sanjay Pandey did commendable work to normalise relations after the riots. However, being apolitical, the mohalla committee took no credit for the work. The Sena built on this base and capitalised on the vacuum left by Mr. Dutt�s absence.

According to informed sources, the police indirectly helped the Sena by externing a Behrampada Muslim leader just before the polls. However, there were no complaints of rigging or bogus voting from Behrampada.

A Behrampada resident said on condition of anonymity that she voted for the Sena as the party had been helping them with their day-to-day problems. For instance, the Sena helped her get an electricity meter installed. Slumdwellers who do not have their own meters are fleeced by slumlords who provide them illegal connections.

According to Ms Barve, Behrampada residents were disoriented when outside support dried up soon after the 1992-93 riots. Several samaritans who had come to the slum�s aid withdrew after they found that the local community leaders refused to stop fighting among themselves.

Left to fend for themselves, most Behrampada residents made their peace with the Sena, which was bending over backwards to woo them. Educated Muslim youngsters were the first to accept the Sena�s offer of friendship. It is from this lot that a new leadership is expected to emerge in the coming months.

However, Behrampada residents feel that the Sena tiger will not change its stripes and that its support for them is largely a tactical move.



Time for Stock Taking - Whither Sangh Parivar?

Sita Ram Goel
1. A Call for an Intellectual (Bauddhika) Kshatriya
2. Ideological Defence of Hindu Society
1. G.V. Ashtekar
2. Professor G.C. Asnani
3. Deep Chandra Awasthi
4. P. N. Awasthi
5. S. K. Balasubramanian
6. Abhas Chatterjee
7. G.C. Chaudhary
8. S. K. Dalvi
9. Ashoke Dasgupta
10. Jitendra D. Desai
11. Nachiketa Dogra
12.  Adwayanand R. Galatge
13. K. B. Ganapathy
14. Padmashri Shalil Ghosh
15. Bhagwati Prasad Goenka
16. Shiv Goud
17. S. C. Gupta
18. B.L. Jaju
19. H.C. Joshi
20.  Dr. S.D. Kulkarni
21.  S.D. Laghate
22.  Professor K. Lakshminarayana
23. Professor K.S. Lal
24. Professor R. R. Mangasuli
25. T. G. Mohandas
26.  Professor S. G. Mujumdar
27.  P. R. K. Naidu
28.  S. Omkar
29. Virendra V. Parekh
30. Hem Raj Prabhakar
31. Baljit Rai
32. Dr. H. Ramarao
33. B.K. Rao
34. (Mrs) Veda Sampath
35. Smt.  M. Sandhya
36. K. Satya Deva Prasad
37. Jagannath Sharma
38. Ajit Singh
39.  Ram Autar Singh
40. Vikram Singh
41. Dr. Vinay Kumar Sinha
42. Shrikant G. Talageri
43. Mrs. Leela Tampi
44. B. K. Verma
45. R. C. Waswani
46. P. S. Yog
47. Brief Responses
1. Sarva Dharma Samabhãva or Sarva Dharma Sambhrama? 
(Unity or Confusion of Religions?)
2. Meaning of Conversions
1. Roll Over, Rushdie
2. Standing Up to Scrutinize Islam
3. Turning away from Mecca
4. Islam is religious fascism
5. Courageous author puts his life on the line
6. Far more dangerous than Nazism
1. Legacy of hate
2. BJP shifts stand to woo Muslims
3. BJP promoting a �minority-friendly� image for elections
4. BJP looks for Muslim plank to move towards Delhi
5. BJP girds up to appease Muslim
6. Khurana�s go-slow on migrants issue irks hawks
7. Pampering the minority ego
8. BJP to bring out Koran in Sanskrit
9. Vajpayee for diluting stand on �Hindutva�
10. More Space for �namaaz� urged
11. Chhabildas sticks to his guns on minority votes
12. Advani allays minorities fears
13. Secret of BJP�s success
14. Advani woos Indian expatriates in London, assails Govt�s Kashmir policy
15. BJP bid to woo Muslims
16. �How can any Muslim in this country say that he does not respect Ram?�
17. Malhotra�s statement on Ayodhya annoys Chavan
18. BJP bid to win over Muslims
19. RSS wants Muslims for friends
20. Babri or �Barabari�?
21. Bihar BJP�s first-ever Muslim leader emerges
22. J.K. Hindu exiles eulogise Thackeray
23. Secularism is the very colour of our blood: Vajpayee
24. A good augury
25. Muslims in Behrampada voted in a pragmatic way
26. Joshi sparks off row over Religion Bill
27. VHP drops plan to �liberate� Kashi, Mathura
28. Govt seeks revision of order on Naib Imam
29. BJYM�S meet on June 7
30. Vande Mataram �dispute� at BJP Muslim meeting
The Tabligh Movement or Millions of Bearded Militants on the March
1. Population Explosion in West Bengal: A Survey