The streets of Batla House — a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood that has echoed religious polarisation ever since the infamous encounter of 2008 — rang out with impromptu slogans against BJP’s Narendra Modi every now and then amid brisk voting on Thursday.
‘Vote for the Congress, vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) - vote for anyone you like, brothers and sisters, except Narendra Modi’ went the slogan followed occasionally by whistles.
The general issues that had governed their choice, voters admitted, ranged from corruption to inflation, secularism, stability and their say in ensuring a government at the Centre that could promise them security.
“Corruption, inflation, secularism and stability are the issues that I voted on. But the most important of these is secularism. I believe I’ve voted for someone who believes in treating people from different religions like siblings, not enemies,” said Mohammad Shariq, 28, a property dealer from Batla House which is a part of the East Delhi constituency.
Mujid Ahmed, 42, a central government employee who resides in Jamia Nagar, agreed. “Anti-corruption is a big issue for me since I’m a government employee myself. But so is secularism. I can’t tell you whom I voted for, but who Muslims like me did not vote for is easy to guess.”
Evident repulsion for the ‘personal agenda’ of the man whom the BJP has chosen as its prime ministerial candidate, many admitted, drove most voters towards the AAP and the Congress. This, they said, was irrespective of Shahi Imam Bukhari’s appeal to not vote for Modi recently.
“I’ve voted for the AAP, I admit, just like I had in the Delhi Assembly elections,” said Anwar Shah, 61, a businessman from Shaheen Bagh. “The BJP and the Congress didn’t let the AAP run their government in Delhi purely because they couldn’t digest the fact that Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t have any personal agenda unlike their leaders.”
Voters from Chandni Chowk constituency echoed similar concerns. “We want a government which respects us and doesn’t treat us as a vote bank,” said Arif Sayed, a resident of Ballimaran.