With the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party fighting for victory in the Delhi assembly elections while the Congress continues its disastrous run, there is intense speculation on how the Muslims, who constitute about 11 per cent of the capital’s population, would vote.
There are eight constituencies in Delhi where there is substantial Muslim presence and it must be conceded that the BJP stands a poor chance of getting Muslim votes in these constituencies.
There is perceived to be a tilt of Muslims towards the AAP but the community has traditionally voted for the Congress. While the buzz is for AAP, the manner in which Arvind Kejriwal publicly rebuffed the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, it would surely have angered a section of the community.
The Congress campaign has been sober and mercifully the corruption scandals that dogged the party in the 2013 assembly polls are now a non-issue.
Of the 673 candidates in the fray for the 70-member assembly, 68 are Muslims – down from 108 two years ago when the total number of contestants was 810. The Congress fielded six Muslims in 2013 and four of them won. It has put up six Muslims this time. The AAP has given ticket to five Muslims, down from six in 2013 while the BJP has fielded only one Muslim – Shakeel Anjum Dehalvi, who was formerly with the AAP. The number was the same in 2013.
Many Muslims are apparently torn between the argument that a vote for the Congress would be a wasted vote since that party is doomed and the counterpoint that AAP has publicly spurned the Imam’s offer of support, even though was for form’s sake.
Significantly, in the Lok Sabha elections held in May last some Muslims had disregarded advice not to vote for Narendra Modi, swayed as they were by Modi’s development agenda. Though campaigns like ‘Gharwapasi’ or the conversion issue have soured the pitch further for the BJP, the dangling fruit of well-being and jobs is still there to lure the voters to some extent.