Controversy stirs over absence of Muslim candidates in Maharashtra; Naseem Khan to quit Cong

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Naseem Khan. Photo: Facebook/ArifNaseemKhanINC

Mumbai: Maharashtra Congress working president Naseem Khan expressed disappointment on Friday over the party, along with the opposition bloc Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), not fielding any Muslim candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

In a letter to AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, Khan stated that many Muslim organisations, leaders, and party workers from all over Maharashtra were expecting Congress to nominate at least one candidate from the minority community, but this expectation was not met.

"Now, they are asking, 'Congress ko Muslim vote chahiye, candidate kyun nahi (why does Congress want Muslim votes but does not want to field any Muslim candidates)?'" said the 60-year-old politician. "I am also upset with this unfair decision of the Congress party. Before this, whenever the party gave me election responsibility in Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Telangana, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and other states, I executed it gracefully and with my full efforts," said Khan in the letter.

"I have no answers to Muslims and their organisations in Maharashtra raising such issues (not fielding candidates from the community). Therefore, I have decided not to campaign for the party during the Lok Sabha elections 2024," he added.

The former state minister pointed out that the MVA, of which the Congress is a key constituent, also did not nominate a single Muslim candidate in Maharashtra, which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second-highest after Uttar Pradesh (80). Additionally, he mentioned that he would not campaign for party candidates for the remaining phases of the Lok Sabha polls.

Khan also announced his resignation from the Maharashtra Congress Campaign Committee. The Congress is contesting 17 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in alliance with the Shiv Sena (UBT) and the NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar), both constituents of the opposition MVA.

Speaking separately to PTI, Khan expressed that the Congress has deviated from its long-held ideology of inclusivity. "The party has deviated from its inclusive ideology and giving representation to all communities," said a miffed Khan.

The Maharashtra Congress working president was in a race for a ticket from Mumbai North Central, but the party chose city unit president Varsha Gaikwad for the constituency. Khan had lost the 2019 assembly elections from Chandivali in Mumbai by 409 votes.

(With PTI Inputs)

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