Sunday, June 10, 2007

Malegaon Municipal Elections: The Stalemate Continues

Stalemate Continues: Malegaon Municipal Corporation Building
The prolonged curiosity as to who will head Malegaon Municipal Corporation continues. IMC (Indian Muslim Congress) popularly known as the Third Front – the single largest party with 26 seats poised to form the government with the help of once ‘untouchable’ Shiv Sena – has developed cold feet after the intense pressure from the ‘high-command’. The alliance of ‘bitter arch-rivals’ (Congress-Janata Dal) is observing silence for the time-being after initial attempts to the sharing of the posts did not succeed.

A 37-seat majority is required to rule the 72-seat civic body.

Third Front being the largest party had staked the claim that it will form the government with the help of the Shiv Sena. With the support of 7 seats of Shiv Sena and 2 seats of NCP and 2 independent candidates, IMC easily reached the magic figure of 37. But with the pressure from the ‘higher-command’ and the NCP’s refusal to sit with the Shiv Sena, this ‘developmental’ alliance hangs in limbo.

The success of Third Front did not go well with the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). To keep IMC away from the throne, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) had done the unthinkable: to form an alliance!

Dismayed by the wave of the Third Front, Janata Dal (Secular) – the largest party in the last election – has filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court alleging that the election was won by provoking ‘religious sensiblities’!

And now comes the twist in the tale: If an IMC-office bearer is to be believed, Third Front has been ‘forced’ to be in touch with the Congress ‘high-command’ to ‘pressurize’ local Congress leaders to behave in a ‘democratic way’. An IMC-Congress ‘secular’ alliance is what the ‘higher-command’ from both the sides (read Jamiatul Ulama Hind) seems to be dictating thus carefully avoiding the prevailing ground realities in Malegaon.

One more option being put forward is a tri-party alliance involving Third Front, Janata Dal (Secular) and the NCP to ‘isolate’ Congress.

The message of the voter from Malegaon is loud and clear: change. So every single political party wants to go with the wave of ‘change’. In that scenario it has added to the woes of the Third Front in choosing its political partners.

One source reveals that if the politics of ‘pressurizing’ continues, then the Third Front might opt to sit in the Opposition. And that will be the least ‘controversial’ thing to do.

The success of the Third Front brought an end to the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress rule of almost 50 years.

The execution of the ‘Assam formula’ in Malegaon began just three months prior to the elections but yet it created a stir among the masses. Assam formula signifies the politics of inclusiveness; people from all faiths come together to work for the betterment of society. Development and not ideology is its subject-matter.

The replication of ‘Assam formula’ in Malegaon reflects the mood of the masses. People wanted change because they were fed up of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) rule. Third Front born on the slogan of ‘reformative politics’ capitalized this urge for change.

Meanwhile the heightened suspense as to the plump post of mayorship continues. Politics is the art of the impossible. Who masters this ‘art’ will be revealed on June 15, the day elected candidates choose their mayor.

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