Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BSP Mumbai South Candidate Shoaib Khateeb Says Will Resign If 'Mayawati Joins Hands With BJP'

Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BSP Mumbai South Candidate Shoaib Khateeb Says Will Resign If 'Mayawati Joins Hands With BJP'

Khateeb, a businessman and a trustee of the city's historic Juma Masjid, is known for his social work in the area, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 02:10 AM IST
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Shoaib Khateeb, Mumbai South Candidate BSP Candidate | FPJ

The fights for the six parliamentary constituencies from Mumbai that will go to the polls on May 20 are largely two-party contests, with the rivals coming from the main political blocks - the NDA-led Mahayuti and the INDI Alliance's Maha Vikas Aghadi. In one seat - Mumbai South - a third aspirant is in reckoning. Shoaib Khateeb, the candidate from the Bahujan Samaj Party (Kumari Mayavati) promises to make the fight for the constituency - one of Mumbai's most diverse, with expensive addresses like Altamount Road and Cuffe Parade, and working-class neighbourhoods like Madanpura and Kamathipura - more interesting. Muslims form a little over one-quarter of the population of the constituency which has around 16 lakh voters

Khateeb, a businessman and a trustee of the city's historic Juma Masjid, is known for his social work in the area, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says that accessible education and medical facilities - by cost and distance - are his priorities for the constituency. Another focus will be employment, he said in a conversation.

Excerpts:

What made you enter the electoral fray?

The MP who represented the area for 10 years is seeking another term. He was with the BJP-led NDA alliance in the past, promoting their agenda. His opponent, Milind Deora, who was then in the Congress, was a hero. Now that has changed. The MP is in the INDI Alliance and Deora is on the other side. He became 'secular' in the last two-and-a-half years of his term.

Why did the INDI Alliance not put up another candidate if they wanted Muslim votes?

There are allegations that you have been propped up by the NDA to split Muslim votes in the area. What is your response?

We are campaigning against both the Maha Vikas Aghadi and NDA. We are telling people not to vote for them. There are 25 crore Muslims in this country. Why is there no national Muslim leader? This is because Muslims have been kept away from power and administration. Maharashtra has 48 parliamentary seats. Congress has not given a single seat to Muslims. I have not been propped up by anyone. I am here because I want our voice to be heard in Delhi. Muslims are being called second-class citizens. We have been called 'infiltrators' and people who are grabbing the properties of other people. National parties have to come together to stop this propaganda. 

Your leader Mayawati was with BJP for some time. What will you do if she decides to support the BJP again?

I will resign from the BSP if Mayawati goes to the BJP.

Some Muslim community members have criticised your decision to contest the elections. They have said that if trustees of religious institutions contest elections, these trusts will be politicised.

A masjid is not just a place for namaz and religious discourse. When prophet Muhammad established his first mosque in Makkah, he made it a centre for community work. I want mosques to be more active in politics because these institutions understand our issues more. The ulema (organisation of religious scholars) have supported me. I want to use masjids for social work - not just for Muslims. Let everyone with a problem come to the masjids.

You are fighting two established political groups. Where will your voters come from?

Of the approximately eight lakh votes polled in the seat in the last election, four lakh went to the NDA candidate. Deora won 3.25 lakh votes. The Sena votes will be divided between candidates of the two alliances. I will get Deora's votes and more. 

In the absence of a national voice for Muslims, what do you think are the national issues for the community?

We are not being consulted before any laws affecting us are made. The CAA and NRC are examples. We are being asked for documents from 40 years ago. People have been told that an Aadhar card is not enough to prove their citizenship. If that is so, why did the government create Aadhar? Why have you linked it with other documents?

It is being said that Muslim women who are happy with the criminalisation of triple talaq will vote for Modi.

Making some changes in marriage laws will not attract voters. The government should have consulted the community before making changes in personal laws.

What are the main issues in your constituency?

Educational and medical facilities are out of reach for most people. Students have to travel to other parts of the city for higher education. Affordable l medical facilities are few and those that existed are closing down.  Reservations for Muslims are an important issue. I think a survey is needed to determine the sections needing help.

You are pitched against two national alliances, with all their electoral machinery and field workers. BSP does not have much presence in the state. How are you managing your campaign?

BSP is a national party. Our workers are campaigning for me and we are getting supported.

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