They may have welcomed Thursday’s verdict on the Batla House encounter but Congress leaders are worried about the timing of the verdict.
Assembly elections in Delhi are less than four months away. Though they are putting up a brave face, Congress leaders accept the verdict has already turned Muslims in some parts of the city against the party.
While senior party leaders preferred to remain silent on the verdict and its possible fallout, sources said the party would have to do some serious thinking on the issue.
“It is a double-edged sword. Speaking in favour of the verdict may anger the Muslim community, especially in Okhla and neighbouring constituencies,” said a senior party leader requesting anonymity.
After the court verdict, residents of Zakir Nagar, where the Batla House is located, said they were certain of making it an election issue this year.
While around 15% of voters in Delhi are Muslim, their population in 10 Assembly segments is more than 20%. Their voting pattern bears an impact on another 18 seats where their population is more than 10%.
In Okhla, Muslims are about 45% of the total voters.
“They have always been voting for the Congress. In the 2008 Assembly elections, they elected Parwez Hashmi. But he was later nominated to the Rajya Sabha and the seat was later won by Asif Mohammad Khan who fought on a Rashtriya Janata Dal ticket. In the 2009 parliamentary elections, Sandeep Dikshit got a huge percentage of votes from this area. But the voters this time are unhappy,” said a senior Congress leader.