BJP’s strategic move: Keep AIMIM afloat in Godhra

By Abdul hafiz Lakhani

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) that won seven seats in the Godhra Municipal Council joined forces with independent councillors to snatch power from the BJP in the local body. In the 44-member council, the BJP bagged 19 seats in the recent local body polls to emerge as the largest party. Independents won 17 wards and the AIMIM got seven, leaving one to the Congress.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not have the top leadership in the Godhra Nagar Palika, even after winning a majority in the local body elections. But, this ‘defeat’ will not affect its power there since it has kept the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party afloat in state politics.

The AIMIM, which won seven Godhra municipality seats in its debut in the state’s politics, extended unconditional support to 17 Independents to form the board, with the posts of president and the vice president going to Independents Sanjay Soni and Akram Patel respectively, AIMIM state president Sabir Kabliwala said.
“Out of seventeen Independents who are part of the 44-strong board, five are non-Muslims. We were successful in stopping BJP from returning to power in Godhra municipality,” Mr Kabliwala told news agency PTI.

Around 17 independent candidates, who had the support of seven AIMIM councillors and one Congress councillor, elected independent candidate Sanjay Soni as the president of the municipality unopposed. This may in turn help the BJP to ensure that votes of the Muslim community do not return to Congress’ fold and instead stay with AIMIM. Another independent councillor, Sophia Jamal who is pro-BJP abstained from participation in the general board meeting of the Nagar Palika. In the recently concluded local body polls, the BJP and independent candidates won 18 seats each, while the Congress party managed to grab just one seat. AIMIM won seven seats in its maiden run in the civic body polls of the Godhra Nagar Palika.

Until Tuesday evening, the BJP claimed to have the support of independent candidates to reach the majority figure of 23 in the 44-seat municipality. But, a few of the independents have been banking on the ‘unconditional” support of the AIMIM. Of the 18 independent councillors, 11 belong to the minority community, which dominates the vote share in the municipality. On working with AIMIM, Soni said, “This will be our first experience working with the AIMIM party.

None of us expected them to win seven seats and become the kingmakers. The independent councillors are disillusioned with the BJP because they did not even construct a single road in town for citizens when they were in power.” In 2015, the BJP had won 18 seats and the Congress managed one, while independent candidates grabbed 25 seats and went on to form a majority board. But, tables were turned when CK Raulji joined the BJP in August 2017 and brought seven councillors with him..

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