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We (MIM) shall make the difference in BMC elections this time, says Patni

Thursday, December 15, 2016
By Prashant Hamine. Photographs By Shyam Iyer

Not withstanding the opinion of the political experts and pollsters predicting a better performance for his party at the ensuing Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Abdul Rehman Shakir Patni of the  All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM, Mumbai President) is upbeat as the mere presence of his party has ruffled the feathers of his rivals -the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. Patni says he does not want to make any tall election promises to the voters, but wants his party’s work to do the talking. Though he does argue that there is no political rival for MIM. Here, Patni talks about MIMs chances at the BMC and his assurance that MIM will make a difference at the BMC.

The pollsters and political experts are predicting that the MIM shall do well in the coming BMC elections. What is your assessment?
Our electoral performance at the BMC elections will definitely be good. Our own expectations are high. We shall work hard and we will contest the elections with full political might that we have at our disposal.
Experts say MIM will win anywhere between 30 to 40 seats. What do you have to say about that?
Our expectations and assessment is that we shall win at least 50 seats.
But how? On what basis do you make a claim?
That is on the basis of the popularity of our national president Assaduddin Owaisi, vice president Akbaruddin Owaisi have amongst the youth in particular. Large section of our supporters are youth. They are the ones who are more tech savvy and into social media platforms. The speeches, the ideology of our national president are hugely popular amongst the youth. People, especially the youth identify with what our national president says. I think we have a strong grassroots presence and we are identifying and talking of issues of the people.
The Congress accuses MIM of being the B Team of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). What do you have to say about that?
Since the last two years ever since we stepped into the Maharashtra political scene, we have been facing these allegations. Back in Hyderabad, for many years now we have been squaring it off politically with the Congress and the BJP as well. There the Congress does not have any problems, does not make such allegations there. These are all baseless allegations. Congress knows it pretty well that its game is up. It is merely trying to raise this bogey of sorts just to prevent its vote bank or supporters from supporting MIM and that they stick to the Congress side. It is absolute lie that we are somebodys agent.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP have been in power for the last 15 years now in the BMC, who do you think is responsible for the civic mess in Mumbai?
I think it is the Sena that is more responsible for the mess and corruption is the main reason for the mess. They have created a well-oiled corrupt system that works from top to bottom. In the case of the condition of roads, the Bombay High Court has passed strictures on the BMC and its shoddy work. They have become such thick skinned that they have lost all sensitivity towards peoples problems. It is not just the question of bad roads, there are not enough public toilets, bridges, supplying clean drinking water, planting and cutting of trees and a host of other issues. BMC is supposed to be worlds and Asia’s richest civic body and nobody can believe they do not have money for providing civic infrastructure facilities. Where does all the money go?
Of late both the Shiv Sena and the BJP despite sharing power have been accusing each other. What do you have to say about that?
This is their standard practice. The Sena-BJP, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have all been doing it during the Assembly elections. This is all publicity stunt. All that they want to ensure is that there vote bank remains intact. This kind of public spat with each other is of no use to either of them. The people are wise enough to understand that all this is being done to divert their attention from civic issues and their failure to solve them.
What would the MIM be offering to the people of Mumbai in the coming BMC elections?
See we know that we are not in power, neither do we have any majority, so we will not make tall promises like the Coastal Roads. Sena and BJP have been in power for the last 15 to 20 years. In other countries projects are given a deadline and they are completed in that time period. On the eve of elections they make such promises and later on after coming to power it is usual to see the same projects taking years to complete and cost escalations. In the end the people do not get quality civic services. People realise it. We (MIM) shall make the difference this time around in the BMC.
Everybody admits to the systemic corruption in the BMC. Files do not move without any weight on them. What is your take on that?
Yes that is quite true that because of the corruption in the BMC administration people do not get good governance and quality civic services. All there plans and schemes look good on paper. The recent move of demonetization has only added more to the miseries of the common man.

What is your plan, how do you intend to campaign for the ensuing BMC elections? What will be your criteria for candidate selection?
Our national party president and our party leaders will campaign in the elections. We have already begun conducting Padyatras and have been getting encouraging response from the people. We will showcase the work that we have done in Hyderabad municipal corporation, we will lay emphasis on good governance and providing basic civic infrastructure and facilities.

As far as the candidate selection is concerned our intention is to field fresh, non-controversial faces who understand issues and identify themselves with the pain and hardships that the people face.
Samajwadi Party argues people from your party are leaving and joining them. What have you go to say about that?
Actually, the Samajwadi Party has lost the BMC elections even before it has been announced. Earlier, they had so many MLAs, now they have just one. Where have the rest gone? Many corporators and leaders have been in touch with us, want to join our party. But we have firmly said no to all these opportunists. Those who left MIM, all that I can say is that those who could not remain loyal to their leader, were down right opportunists. Unlike Samajwadi Party that plays with the emotions of the people, we (MIM) identify with the emotions and sentiments of the people.

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