For those who have political aspirations and live in the Walled City — a Muslim dominated area — joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a rage these days.
The Congress, which is already popular amongst Muslims “as their own party”, sees Muslim youths joining it in bulk every year, making it difficult for a young worker to make a mark for himself, said a young Muslim BJP worker in Sadar Bazar.
“A friend and I joined the two parties simultaneously. While I have already become secretary of my area, he is still struggling to be noticed,” he added.
Even in the streets of the Walled City, there was an apparent shift in the image of the saffron party which, after the Babri Masjid demolition, had became extremely unpopular amongst the Muslim community.
“That was years ago. Both Muslims and the party have decided to move ahead. Recently in a party meeting, our senior leaders told us they want more and more Muslims to join the party as they need Muslim votes,” said another young BJP supporter.
And they are getting votes. Imran Ismail, a Muslim candidate of the BJP, has already won the municipal elections from a hardcore Muslim area like Bara Hindu Rao.
Young Muslims are spotted outside every polling booth working as ‘polling agents’ for the BJP. Many accompanied Talat Sultana, BJP’s only Muslim woman candidate, contesting from Matia Mahal. Sultana who was earlier with Shoaib Iqbal’s Janata Dal (S) moved to the BJP four months ago. Iqbal is now with Lok Janshakti Party.
“I left that party to join the BJP as I get more respect here. Within four months of joining I was offered a ticket to contest in the assembly elections. What more can I ask for?” said Sultana.
Locals said a decade ago the BJP would not even campaign in Muslim dominated areas.
“Residents would protest or boycott their rallies. Things, however, started to change after the BJP formed the NDA government,” said Tausif Khan, a resident of Chawri Bazar.
But the party still has a long way to go. Even now there are areas where the party does not campaign and the Congress is a favourite despite their disliking for the candidate contesting on the party’s ticket.
“Haroon Yusuf has come as a big disappointment. He has failed to solve any of our problems. It’s the Congress that we are still voting for, not Yusuf,” said Basheer Khan, a resident of Ballimaran.