This BSP candidate is looking to slums and Muslim-dominated pockets of Mumbai North Central constituency to take him into Parliament.Haji Ibrahim Shaikh, a 55-year-old Santacruz businessman, is out to give Priya Dutt a tough fight. The first-time candidate, popularly known as Bhaijan, in an interview withSwatee Kher
For several years, you had been active with the Nationalist Congress Party, even acting as the city unit chief until recently. Why did you suddenly switch to the BSP?
Over the past few years, after delimitation, we have been asking the Congress and the NCP to nominate a minority candidate in this seat. Muslims and Dalits form a majority here. They refused and continued with the dynasty. That is why I have joined the BSP and entered the fray. I will work for all sections of the society.
You are up against sitting MP Priya Dutt and BJP candidate Mahesh Jethmalani. Both these parties have their established strongholds in the region, so what will be your pull among the voters?
People want a leader from among them. They don’t want occasional visitors. I have been working with the poor and in the slum areas for several years. The slumdwellers are fed up as they have not seen development for years despite promises.
What are your main planks for this election?
People are living for decades on land reserved for railways, airport authority and the government. I will ensure that these reservations are removed.
Water is a big issue here and I will work for it in my constituency, and ensure implementation of the Sachar Committee report.
Will your entering the field and taking away the Congress-NCP votes help opponents?
Those secular-minded in my constituency will vote for me and ensure my win. People will not vote for a party that has a leader like Varun Gandhi who uses foul language against Muslims. Despite living in Hindustan, we are being attacked. It is a good thing that Mayawati applied NSA on Varun.
There are parts of your constituency that are cosmopolitan, with an educated and well-to-do population. Are you not going to represent them?
In my constituency, there are six lakh minority voters, one lakh Uttar Pradesh natives and about two lakh Dalits. They make almost 76 per cent of the electorate. They are spread across the constituency and they can bring people to power. Apart from the concerns of Muslims and Dalits, there has been trouble for UP natives in Mumbai. I will also be speaking for them.