Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CM, Malegaon moulvis strike deal

JOINING HANDS: Members of the IMCP met Vilasrao Deshmukh on Monday

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

The Congress finally capitulated on Monday night and gave the Malegaon mayor’s post to the the threemonth old Indian Muslim Congress Party (IMCP) or Third Front, a party headed by Mufti Mohammed Ismail, high priest of Malegaon’s Jama Masjid.

The Congress and the IMCP will jointly rule the Malegaon municipal corporation for the next five years. This decision was taken at a meeting between the leaders of IMCP and chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, at the latter’s official residence.

Explaining the turnaround, Ismail, who till yesterday was talking of an alliance with the Shiv Sena said, “The ideological conflict is still there. We were talking to Shiv Sena but could not muster up the 37 seats needed for majority and therefore, when we got an offer from the Congress we agreed. All this is for Malegaon’s development.’’

He added, “We contested the election on the development issues since we realised there was a lot of work to be done for the city. The residents of Malegaon voted for us and now we are looking forward for their upliftment.’’

The IMCP bagged 27 seats in the 72-member corporation elections. Congress has 15 seats and the Nihal Ahmed-led Janata Dal (Secular) could manage only 12 seats. The Shiv Sena bagged seven seats, and the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena won two.

The CM agreed to IMCP’s demand and they will get the post of mayor for five years. The office of the deputy mayor will be held by Congress.

Deshmukh congratulated Ismail and said the two parties should work together. “We should work for the development of Malegaon. Leaders of the two parties know the issues and will work jointly to solve the problems,’’ he said.

The IMCP will have standing committee chairmanship for three years and a Congressman will hold the same post for two years. Likewise, the municipal corporation’s school board chairman will be from IMCP for three years and then from Congress for two years.


(The Times of India, June 12, 2007)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Malegaon deal: Cong-NCP tries to win over IMCP

Mufti Mohammed Ismail (above)is the chief imam of Malegaon's Jama mosque.

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Congress and NCP are putting intense pressure on Indian Muslim Congress Party, a group of religious and community leaders that has emerged as the single largest party in the civic polls, ever since it talked of forming a coalition with Shiv Sena to rule the corporation.

IMCP has emerged as the leading player after the recently-held Malegaon municipal polls, but remains short of a majority. The outfit has been in talks with Sena on the issue of sharing power since the election results were declared on May 28. Sena chief Bal Thackeray, on his part, has given the nod to tie up with IMCP. But Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), the other contenders, have also been discussing the idea of joining hands.

State Congress chief Prabha Rao has tried to open a line of communication with the IMCP head, 46-yr-old Mufti Mohammed Ismail. Sources said Rao called up Mufti Ismail on Tuesday night and asked him to join hands with the local Congress unit.

Mufti Ismail told TOI that he had made it clear to Rao that IMCP was looking for support from the secular parties in order to retain control of the corporation. But if Congress tried to use ‘under-hand’ means to take charge and appoint the mayor, Mufti Ismail said, his party would make them ‘pay for it in the assembly polls.’

Mufti said, “Prabha Rao called me up and asked me to form a majority with the help of Congress. I told her clearly that as we won the maximum seats, the mayor would be from our party.’’ He also clarified that IMCP would not stop negotiations with Sena in its bid to form a coalition.

The three-month-old IMCP, also known as the Third Front, had bagged 27 seats in the 72-member elections. Congress had 15 seats and the Nihal Ahmed-led JD(Secular) could manage only 12. Shiv Sena bagged seven seats while Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena won two.

Malegaon’s Congress MLA Shaikh Rasheed, whose son Asif (27) has already been a mayor between 2005-2007—a period which saw brewing discontentment among residents of the textile township due to deterioration of civic services. This time, Nihal Ahmed wants his daughter Shan-e-Hind (25) to be deputy mayor.

With Congress seeking to wrest control of the Rs 120-crore civic corporation, the IMCP coalition is keen to ensure that the township gets a new set of people to govern it. For this, it is willing to forge an alliance with Sena despite ideological differences. “It’s a matter of trust. We are negotiating with Sena only for the development of Malegaon,’’ said Mufti.

Deputy chief minister R R Patil has also tried to woo IMCP by assuring Mufti Ismail that he will speak to chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and ensure Congress-NCP’s support for the Third Front. It’s a situation that has landed the Mufti in a dilemma.

In one of his election rallies, he had said, “Voting for NCP is a bigger sin than committing suicide.’’ Now, Malegaon’s residents are debating on whether he will go with Congress-NCP or prefer to join hands with Sena.
Petitions seek stay on mayoral polls

Nineteen candidates of Janata Dal and four of NCP have filed petitions in a Malegaon sessions court asking for a stay on the June 15 mayoral polls. The petitions, filed through advocate Azeem Khan, have argued that IMCP’s election rallies were organised along religious lines. They also said prayers were offered at the start and end of each rally. TNN

(The Times of India, June 9, 2007)

Monday, June 4, 2007

IMCP-Sena to share mayoral posts in Malegaon

WINDS OF CHANGE: The Malegaon civic polls have thrown up unexpected political equations

Third Front Team Likely To Visit Mumbai To Meet Balasaheb And Uddhav Thackeray For Final Approval

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
In a two-hour closed-door meeting at Shivneri Bhavan in Malegaon on Saturday night, officebearers of the Indian Muslim Congress Party and Shiv Sena agreed to a sharing arrangement for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor in the Malegaon Municipal Corporation. While the mayor would be from IMCP, the saffron party would get the post of deputy mayor.

This means that the cleric-led IMCP, which as the Third Front substantially dented the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) votebanks in the May 27 civic elections, is a step closer to staking its claim to rule the powerloom town’s civic corporation along with the Sena. While a 37-seat majority is needed to rule the 72-seat civic House, the IMCP bagged 26 seats and the Sena seven. An Independent candidate has also offered them support.

Meanwhile, Congress and JD(S), which are joining hands, have 15 and 12 seats respectively. One Independent has also offered the JD(S) support. The Malegaon House will vote for the mayor on June 13.

A delegation of the Third Front is likely to come to Mumbai to meet Sena chief Bal Thackery and executive president Uddhav Thackery to close the deal. A decision on meeting the Thackerays is yet to be taken. No Sena office-bearer in Malegaon was available for comment.

The Malegaon meeting was attended by the Shiv Sena’s Malegaon (Camp) MLA, Dada Bhuse, taluka pramukh Sanjay Dusane and IMCP office-bearers Maulana Ayyub Qasmi, Ateeque Mahendra and others. Several Sena leaders from Thane and Nashik were also present at the meeting and offered support to the IMCP.

It is learnt that deputy chief minister R R Patil on Saturday spoke to IMCP president Mufti Mohammed Ismail via telephone and assured him of the NCP’s support if the Front did not join hands with the Sena. Sources said that Patil even said that he would speak to chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to get Congress support for the Front. However, the Front declined Patil’s offer, saying the Congress has ruined the city and hampered its development. TOI reported on Sunday that the Congress’s insistence on the mayor’s post for itself has angered the Front IMCP.

“The long-time enemies, the Congress and the Nihal Ahmed-led Janata Dal (Secular), have joined hands to keep the Front out of power. The central government has sanctioned a fund of Rs 200 crore after the serial blasts for the city’s development and these two parties are eyeing the fund and trying to capture power so they can misuse this fund too,’’ alleged Mufti Ismail.

There have been reports that Congress leaders in Mumbai have been told that party bosses in Malegaon are offering money and cars to corporators who will support them for the mayor’s post.

“Malegaon is known for generating the maximum revenue among all powerloom cities in the state. But the poor infrastructure, 10-hour load-shedding and lack of basic amenities are the reasons why people voted for us. We have to fulfil the people’s expectations to improve the state of the city,’’ said the 46-year-old mufti.

NCP will support the Third Front only if it does not join hands with the Sena, said NCP spokesperson Majeed Memon. “The Front’s success is a clear indication that the people have rejected the JD and Congress misrule of the past. We are supporting the Front for the mayor’s seat. We only caution the Front not to join hands with the Sena. If the Front does so, then we will be forced to sit in the opposition,’’ said Memon.

(The Times of India, June 4, 2007)