Matia Mahal | india | Hindustan Times
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Matia Mahal

The narrow lanes of Matia Mahal inside the Walled City are buzzing with Id-related activities and door-to-door campaigning for the assembly elections. The 87,000-strong electorate has twice elected Janata Dal (S)?s Shoaib Iqbal, and inshallah, he says, he will win for a third time running.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2003 13:45 IST

The narrow lanes of Matia Mahal inside the Walled City are buzzing with Id-related activities and door-to-door campaigning for the assembly elections. The 87,000-strong electorate has twice elected Janata Dal (S)’s Shoaib Iqbal, and inshallah, he says, he will win for a third time running.

The areas falling under Matia Mahal include Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid, Turkman Gate, and the area behind the Delite cinema and the Yamuna Pushta. Of the 87,000 voters, more than 65,000 are Muslims. Interestingly, Yamuna Pushta, which the police say has thousands of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, has a rather crucial 21,000 votes.

Congress candidate, Azhar Shagufa, however, has vowed not to allow Iqbal to complete a hat-trick. “The area has deteriorated in many ways. Especially, in terms of schools and hospitals. And since the population is mostly uneducated, awareness about health is also lacking,” she told the Hindustan Times.

Shagufa, who had won the councillor’s seat on a Congress ticket in 1997, said women’s empowerment is another important issue she wants to address. “There has hardly been any progress for the women of the area. I will ensure 33 per cent reservation for them,” she said.

The BJP candidate, Qasim Malik, is campaigning more or less on the same issues. “The people of the area have not got anything from their MLA in the past 10 years. No civic work in terms of water, power, roads, schools and hospitals has been done in Matia Mahal,” he said.

Malik does not have any qualms about fighting the polls in this Muslim-dominated area on a BJP ticket. “I have been a party member since 1987. It is not an anti-Muslim party, and I think it is the only party that can rule the country,” he said.

Iqbal does not have any love lost for either of the two parties. “The Babri Masjid was demolished under Congress rule. It has also fooled the minority community by not giving any reservation to them,” he said.

He also claimed to have taught the “A, B, C of politics” to Shagufa. “I brought her into politics in 1993 and now she is standing against me. The people of Matia Mahal are angry with her because of this. Everyone knows that I introduced her into the political arena,” he said.

Malik is looking forward to a public meeting in the Pushta on November 23 where Union Ministers Shahnawaz Hussain, Jagmohan, and Vijay Goel will campaign for him.