BJP has stepped into Malwani to test political waters in this Muslim-dominated Malad village. Of eight wards here, at least four boast of a 50%-plus minority population.
The BJP has fielded Shabana Javed Azam from ward No.34 to take on Congress corporator Qamar Jahan Siddique. That Siddique is Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh’s sister has made the poll fight in this women-only civic ward interesting, say local residents.
However, Aslam Shaikh seemed unperturbed with BJP’s gameplan to woo Muslims in his fiefdom of years. His supporters point out that Shaikh withstood the 2014 Modi hurricane and won the Malwani assembly seat with a comfortable margin. “My family is loyal to Malwani, its landscape and people. We have executed schemes for the welfare of citizens.BJP will come third,” he said.
Shabana Azam thinks it is a good sign the BJP should make efforts to reach out to other communities. “I was impressed with the BJP’s `Sabka saath, sabka vikas’ slogan,” she added.
Draped in churidar-kurta with a dupatta placed firmly on her head, Shabana spoke in impeccable English. She refra ined from targeting her Congress rival and, instead, discussed civic woes.
“There is perennial shortage of water and gutters are overflowing. Primary healthcare is nearly absent,” she said, adding, “As corporator, I would be in a position to tackle our civic problems.”
Hyder Azam, Shabana’s brother-in-law, is linked with Mumbai BJP’s minority cell and that made matters easy for the Azam clan while deciding Shabana’s candidature.
“Hydarbhai suggested Shabana should contest from ward No. 34 and the party accepted his suggestion,” said Javed, Shabana’s husband. His Modi-style kurta blended well with the saffron mood which prevailed in his wife’s election head office. Stating that Malwani is trying to free itself from its “shackles”, Shabana said, “You will find at least four convent schools in the area. There are many cases where Malwani girls are working in BPOs and IT offices.”