"It's a matter of concern how the AIMIM has got strength from Muslim localities in Sambhajinagar where the Owaisi brothers had challenged to uproot the saffron flag and plant their green flag," the Shiv Sena said.

Ruing how some Dalit and non-Muslim candidates have also won on AIMIM tickets, the Sena accused the party of "playing dirty politics to divide the Dalit-Hindu votes", in an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana.

"If the party, which was formed for the interests of only Muslim community, continues to get such support even from the Dalits, it's alarm time for not only social unity but also the Ambedkar movement," the edit warned.

Pointing out that in the last (October 2014) assembly elections, the AIMIM's leads in 50 civic wards (of total 113) of Aurangabad had emboldened it to dream of capturing the civic body in the Wedneday polls.

"Though that dream failed to materialise, the very fact that 26 candidates of the 'poisonous party' have been elected to the civic body is definitely not a good sign...it was like a 'crusade' (religious war) in Sambhajinagar which the Shiv Sena has won and in which the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party were blown away like dried leaves," the Sena said.

However, despite the 'saffron victory' in Aurangabad, the Shiv Sena feels the 'green upsurge' spells danger since a communal party like AIMIM is "unifying Muslim votes under an Islamic banner".

The edit followed the AIMIM's stunning performance in the April 22 Aurangabad civic elections in which Sena secured 28 seats, the AIMIM stood second with 26 seats, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came third with 24 seats in the 113-member house.

The Congress bagged only 11 seats, while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came home with two seats, and smaller parties and independents captured 23 seats, with AIMIM poised to become the main opposition party in the city renowned for its world-famous Ajanta-Ellora cave temples.

Though the Sena-BJP alliance secured control by bagging a total 52 seats, it still falls short of a simple majority of 57, necessitating the support of rebels and independents.The AIMIM made a soft entry in Maharashtra in 2012 bagging 11 seats in the 81-member Nanded Municipal Corporation elections that year.

Progressing steadily, it is now preparing for the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections due early-2017, and other important civic bodies like Pune and Thane.

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