How BJP’s clarion call to majority firmed up AAP’s Muslim vote base
Delhi has five assembly segments which, according to data shared by political parties, have a Muslim population above 40% currentlyUpdated: Feb 12, 2020 09:53 IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won all five Muslim-dominated assembly constituencies in Delhi by large vote shares, ranging between 53% and 76%, data published by the Election Commission (EC) shows.
Delhi has five assembly segments which, according to data shared by political parties, have a Muslim population above 40% currently. They are Okhla in south-east Delhi, Seelampur and Mustafabad in the north-eastern peripheries of the city, and the Old Delhi seats of Ballimaran and Matia Mahal.
In four of these five seats, no candidate since 1993 has won an election with vote shares as high as what the AAP candidates received. To be sure, the boundaries of Delhi’s assembly and parliamentary constituencies were redrawn in 2008 making this comparison not entirely scientific.
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The AAP candidates — Amanatullah Khan in Okhla, Abdul Rehman in Seelampur, Haji Yunus in Mustafabad, Imran Hussain in Ballimaran and Shoaib Iqbal in Matia Mahal – won with vote shares ranging between 53.2% (Mustafabad) and 76% (Matia Mahal). Ballimaran was also the constituency that had recorded the highest voter turnout of 71.6% in this election.
Rehman and five-time MLA Shoaib Iqbal are AAP’s new recruits; Khan and Hussain won their respective seats in the 2015 assembly elections also; and Yunus lost the Mustafabad seat to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Jagdish Pradhan last time.
On Tuesday, Pradhan lost the seat despite the BJP improving its vote share by seven percentage points – from 35.3% in 2015 to around 42%. This is also BJP’s best performance in terms of vote share in any of the five Muslim- dominated seats.
Of the five Muslim seats, the Congress received 15.6% share in Seelampur, where Mateen Ahmed, a veteran of the grand old party received around 15.6% of the vote. In all other seats, the Congress was pinned down to under 5% vote share, the data suggested.
According to EC records, in 2015, the Congress got a vote share of 12% in Okhla and 21.28% in Seelampur. In Mustafabad, the party got 31.7% in vote share, 13.8% in Ballimaran, and 26.7% in Matia Mahal.
Mohammad Mustaqeem, 32, a resident of Matia Mahal, said residents of his area voted to defeat “hate politics”. “There is a sense of anger among Muslims over of the kind of campaign the opposition party (BJP) had launched. People were really agitated by the way Muslims were targeted.”
Other voters said they were also impressed with AAP’s work.
Ateekh Ahmed, a businessman in Ballimaran, said the community voted for the AAP not just to defeat the BJP, but also on account of the work done by the party. “The Muslims in Delhi voted for development. We voted for the AAP because it has delivered on what it had promised.”
“The result is not a huge surprise. As common people, we always want a government that makes our life easier... Electricity and water bills have reduced. These small things matter for people and that is why we voted for AAP,” said Shahzad Ali, a resident of Shaheen Bagh, whose daughter studies in a Delhi government school.
Nabi Ansari, a resident of Jamia Nagar in Okhla, said, “National issues cannot dominate local elections. People want cleaner streets and safer homes. There used to be water-logging in our area which has reduced drastically. Why wouldn’t people vote for a party that made it possible?”
Praveen Rai, political analyst with the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), pointed out a few other factors for the consolidation of Muslim votes. He counted among them the BJP campaign that led to a “reverse polarisation” amid anxieties among Muslims created by the recently amended citizenship law and a strong demand for civic amenities in most Muslim-dominated areas.
“The BJP’s campaign on Hindu-Muslim issues has been counterproductive. It only led to reverse polarisation, consolidating anti-BJP votes in favour of the AAP. Muslims were already anxious over the CAA. They were clear that any vote for the Congress would split votes and benefit the BJP. Secondly, most Muslim-dominant areas need good schools, hospitals, water and sewer connections. People believe the solution to such civic issues lies with AAP,” Rai said.