Dadar - Waris Pathan speaks with the confidence of a politician who knows the only way for his party now is upwards.
The only All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLA from Mumbai is now spearheading the party's first even BMC poll fray. Rhetoric and appeal to the wrongs done to a section of the city's population pepper the 48 year old politician's energetic conversation. He takes all controversies in his stride, counters every allegation smoothly and has a pat reply for every query. Mumbai Live hosted Pathan for a dialogue on Thursday and found the lawyer-turned-accidental politician an engaging quarry.
Pathan was ready with his hashtags even before the Mumbai Live editorial team could throw their questions at him. 'Ab Mumbai Badlega', he declared. "For too long, we have suffered potholed roads, water problems, malfunctioning hospitals and disfunctional civic schools," he pointed out. The MIM, if given a chance, would ensure that this situation would change. "You have given every party a chance to rule and look at what they have achieved. Their record speaks for itself. Now it's time for us to take the reins in our hands." Referring to the party's success in the recently local body elections across the state, he quipped, "Maharashtra nagarparishad toh jhaaki hai, BMC polls baaki hai!" (The Maharashtra municipal council elections were just a teaser, watch out for the BMC polls!)
Pathan has been in the news earlier for refusing to adhere to the nationalist spirit by chanting 'Bharat mata ki jai'. He maintained that he was merely adhering to the Constitution and that no one coud be coerced into making such statements in public. "Do I need a certificate of nationlism from the BJP and a certificate of secularism from the Congress?" he asked. Both the Congress and the Samajwadi Party too have been unmasked, he said, adding that the ruling party's 'dadagiri' could not be tolerated any more.
Pathan's brief for the election campaign ahead seems clear. A section of the citizenry has been used for too long by canny parties who have used them as vote banks, he averred. "It is time we vote in candidates who work well. Proper utilisation of funds has not happened in the last many years. Some areas of the city continue to lack in basic amenities and facilities," he pointed out.
It could be an upward struggle for the AIMIM to prove its existence in the city, but that does not seem to bother the feisty Pathan. "Our work is our identity," he ended the conversation with another flourish.