Facing a renewed alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM)'s Byculla MLA Waris Pathan faces a tough fight in the Mumbai constituency in the upcoming State Assembly elections on October 2019. With over 50 candidates contesting all around Maharashtra from the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM wishes to usurp NCP's spot in Maharashtra's primary Opposition to the BJP-Shiv Sena ruling duo. Pathan, who faces his re-election from Byculla remains optimistic of his victory as he talked to Republic TV's Tejashree Purandare in a special edition of 'On-the-Road'. Maharashtra will go to polls in a single phase on October 21 along with Haryana.
Talking about the main fight of AIMIM, throughout the nation, Waris Pathan said, "Out of the 50 candidates contesting in Maharashtra, 10 are non-Muslim. Don't we give the message of secularism? Our fight is not with our Hindu brothers and sisters. Our fight is with Hindutva - Goalkar, Bajrang Dal and RSS. Today our fight in Byculla is with the Shiv Sena. Most non-Muslims too vote for us because we have made development in our constituency."
On a local level, Waris Pathan- an advocate by profession, has devised a campaign strategy 'Main Bhi Waris Pathan', to identify with voters on a ground-level. Slamming the havoc wrecked by the Sena-BJp combo in Byculla, he said:
"Main Bhi Waris Pathan - This election is not just contested by me. Every person in Byculla is contesting this election. Everyone must fight against dictatorship and show the Shiv Sena and BJP that they have ruined Mumbai and Byculla. Hence, everyone is taking up the fight themselves. On 24th you will see the results yourself, how the Shiv Sena will be defeated in Byculla. 2,48,000 voters say that 'we are Waris Pathan'."
Elaborating about his origins into AIMIM, Waris Pathan said that he has raised minorities issue on every avenue. He also slammed the ruling coalition for ist lack of betterment of roads, the failing economy and the rise in pothole deaths. He said that AIMIM will emerge victorious in the fight against Shiv Sena.
"I was never interested in politics as an advocate. When I joined AIMIM, I never imagined that I would be elected as the MLA. I have raised the minorities' issues in every forum. Byculla has become famous in the world when I appear in debates - it appears as Waris Pathan (Byculla MLA). Now Shiv Sena and BJP have joined hands to fight us in Byculla," he said.
"We have been talking about this issue as the director of the bank was a BJP MLA's son. During the BJP's rule, many scams have taken place. In Mumbai's BMC the BJP-Shiv Sena is ruliung together. What have they done for the betterment of the roads? People are falling due to potholes. The economy has gone down, farmers are committing suicides. All these will be the issues in this election," he added.
Talking on a national level, Pathan said that the AIMIM president Owaisi was one of the most influential people in India. He also added that Owaisi was the only one countering BJP's autonomy in Kashmir.
"Asaduddin Owaisi is voice of the minorities, the underprivileged in India. His rank is around 47 in the top 100 influential people in India. No one is raising their voice in the Kashmir issue. Only person raising his voice against it is Asaduddian Owaisi. But if Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are also ours. This aspect cannot be ignored. They have been put in custody by the government's dictatorship. This has been exposed everywhere," he said.
Meanwhile, explaining the AIMIM's fight on a pan-Maharashtra level, the party's Maharashtra president Imtiyaz Jaleel - Maharashtra revealed that Owaisi will be campaigning in Western Maharashtra and he will be covering Marathwada in the coming two weeks.
"The following of AIMIM in Maharashtra has grown by leaps anfd bounds. In 2014 when we contested for the first time in Maharashtra, our party has grown in terms of corporators. We had just 11 corporators in one city in 2014, now we have 150 corporators throughout Maharashtra including rural Maharashtra. This time also we have huge expectations," he said, talking to Republic TV editor Niranjan Rangaswamy.
AIMIM's Waris Pathan who is the incumbent of South Mumbai's Byculla constituency faces Shiv Sena's Geeta Gawli - daughter of Arun Gawli and independent candidate and reality TV star Ajaz Khan. Maharashtra will go to polls in a single phase on October 21. The results will be declared on October 24.