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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Hoping for comeback, shift in Muslim vote worries Congress

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 11, 2014
First Published: 01:36 IST(11/4/2014) | Last Updated: 01:39 IST(11/4/2014)

Senior Congress leaders accepted that a huge percentage of Muslims votes had gravitated to the Aam Aadmi Party in this election, which may tilt the election result in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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Muslims, along with the Dalits and the slum and resettlement colony voters, have been traditionally voting for the Congress in the Capital.

Swayed by the Aam Aadmi Party’s promises to give free water, cheaper electricity and regularisation of jobs, a major chunk of slum and resettlement colony votes shifted to the AAP in the assembly elections, causing a major upset to the incumbent Congress, which was ruling Delhi for the last 15 years.

This time, the Muslims vote bank also seems to have shifted its loyalties.

“The Muslim vote has indeed got divided in a major way. In some parts of the city, 65-70% Muslim votes have gone in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party while we have got just about 25%. In certain areas, we have got 50-60% Muslim votes. But it is still advantage BJP,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.

Senior Congress leaders said the Muslims showed the signs of moving away from the Congress in the 2013 Delhi assembly elections. However, the division of Muslim vote was apparent this time. Muslims play a decisive role on three Delhi seats -- North East Delhi, East Delhi and Chandni Chowk.

“The Muslims did vote for other parties in the initial 3-4 hours of voting. But a large chunk of Muslim votes came out after lunch and they voted for the Congress. If one seat the Congress should be confident of winning - thanks to the Muslim support - it is Chandni Chowk,” said senior Congress leader Chatar Singh who was coordinating the election of party’s Chandni Chowk candidate Kapil Sibal.

While Muslim votes have moved away, party leaders said the slum vote showed the signs of coming back to the Congress fold. Senior party leaders said Rahul Gandhi’s rally at Dakshinpuri last Sunday was a clear indication that the poor were realigning with the Congress.

“The slum voters realised that the Kejriwal government promised them moon anmd when the time came to deliver on those promises, he ran away. A large section of slum votes have voted for the Congress in entire Delhi including West Delhi,” party’s West Delhi candidate Mahabal Mishra said.


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