Wary, minorities in city stick to Congress

  • Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 25, 2014 09:25 IST

Half-an-hour before polling came to an end, voters continued to line up at the transit camp school complex polling station at the Bharat Nagar slum, a Muslim butchers’ colony, in Bandra-Kurla Complex.

There was a similar rush among voters to cast their vote at Quresh Nagar in Kurla (East), another Muslim-dominated pocket, and the Kalina tank area in Santacruz (East), which has East Indian Christian population.

“It is clear. We belong to a minority community and this time we have voted with the intent of keeping communal forces at bay rather than on policies or development programmes of parties or candidates,” said Ariba Shaikh, 22, a doctor from Kurla. But, if the ruling alliance was counting on a mega surge in all minority-dominated areas to retain its hold on the financial capital of the country, then it will have to do a rethink.

Mumbadevi, a Muslim-dominated area in south Mumbai constituency, posted the lowest voter turnout at 41.91%. In south-central constituency, Anushaktinagar, which is also dominated by minorities, had the lowest the voter turnout at 41.64%. The sentiments of minorities, especially Muslims, were to keep communal forces at bay and consolidate votes against BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi. In some areas, it looked like Muslim voters were considering the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as an option, with voters talking about giving them a chance in south Mumbai and north-east constituencies. The majority, however, openly said they backed Congress. “It is unfortunate to see opinion polls showing the BJP as the party coming to power. The concerns of minorities are completely ignored,” said Osborne Jacinto, 67, a Kalina resident.

“I believe Modi is not the right person to lead us, hence we have chosen Congress. With Congress at the Centre, there will be peace for Muslims,” said Imran Shaikh, 27, a street vendor in Andheri (West). However, the poor turnout at Mumbadevi has made Congress leaders wary. The area had given sitting MP Milind Deora a lead of 54,000 votes in 2009. “Many names from were missing and deletions were very high. These mistakes are estimated to cost nearly 7,500-8,000 votes for us in this area alone,” said party corporator Waqarunissa Ansari, who plans to take the issue up with the collector.

In Trombay’s Cheetah Camp, which falls under the south-central constituency and is dominated by Muslims, polling remained slow. Most polling booths recorded very little activity till 12pm. The north-east constituency that covers a major portion of slums dominated by Muslims, especially Shivaji Nagar and Mankhurd that gave NCP MP Sanjay Patil a lead in 2009 polls, also saw lukewarm response.

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