The Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Maharashtra unit has chosen to remain non-committal on the number of Muslim candidates it will nominate for the ensuing 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the state.
"Muslims would definitely be given representation in decision-making bodies ... but for (Lok Sabha) candidature, it would be solely merit - it may be more or may be less," said AAP national executive member and social activist Mayank Gandhi Monday.
Gandhi was responding to a demand for adequate representation made by a group of Muslim organisations under the banner of National Movement for Social Justice, Good Governance and Empowerment of Minorities, which Monday met and formally extended support to AAP.
They included Maulana Salman Husani Nadwi, Chairman of Ekta Manch which is a federation of 26 political parties from Uttar Pradesh and announcing support to AAP which is gearing up for a massive campaign prior to the 2014 general elections.
AAP plans to make a big entry in Maharashtra by contesting a majority of the 48 Lok Sabha seats, including targeting stalwarts like Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde, Nationalist Congress Party's Praful Patel and Congress' Suhilkumar Shinde, among others.
In the 2009 elections, for the first time in many years, not a single Muslim leader from any political party was elected to the Lok Sabha from the state, which has a huge Muslim population - around 15 million as per the 2011 Census.
Subsequently, the Congress sought to make amends by nominating Hussain Dalwai to the Rajya Sabha - the sole representative of the community in parliament.
"After the British rule, we felt there would be a change, but both the Congress and the BJP have let us down. Now that the AAP has emerged as a new force, we hope they will carry forward the good work," Nadwi said.
Some major organisations which have thrown their weight behind AAP include the Jamat-E-Islami Hind, AMU Alumni Association of Maharashtra, Husaini Sunni Foundation, United Muslims of Maharashtra, Nadva Foundation of Mumbai and Imaan Foundation.