With the scepticism about the Muslim community’s reservations about voting for the BJP being laid to rest in the last Lok Sabha elections, BJP has enhanced focus on minority-dominated constituencies like Mustafabad and Okhla in Delhi, which had otherwise been electing Congress candidates during the previous elections.
Data released by the chief electoral office, post the results of 7 Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi, have given a ray hope for BJP to which each seat matters in the crucial Delhi election. The party does not wish to squander seat that may otherwise fall in AAP or Congress’s kitty.
In the previous assembly elections, while AAP candidates had banked heavily on a secure Muslim vote bank in Delhi, the reversal in trend in the seven parliamentary constituencies in the Capital was emblematic of the fact that the Minority community had moved beyond the past references to Modi’s alleged involvement in the Godhra riots.
For instance, in North-East Delhi MP constituency, which has a sizeable Muslim population in Babarpur and Mustafabad Assembly constituencies, BJP candidate Manoj Tiwari, who was initially relying upon a huge vote bank from the Purvanchali population, enjoyed good support from the Muslim populace as well. Hasan Ahmed, the Congress leader who has won in two previous Assembly Elections from Mustafabad, won the previous two elections with a margin of 1896 votes only (in 2013) and 979 votes (in 2008) with BJP coming second on both occasions.
Likewise, while Asif Mohammad Khan has won from Okhla constituency in 2013 (on Congress ticket) and also in 2008 (on RJD ticket). Asif Mohammad Khan is likely to get very stiff competition this time from AAP’s Amanatullah Khan, who is likely to be the most favoured candidate of the Minority community in the 2015 Assembly elections owing to several reasons, including incumbency factor, Amanatullah Khan’s image as the grass-root worker and Congress’s dwindled fortunes in Delhi.
In Mustafabad, the clear favourite till now is Hasan Ahmad, who is banking on the development work done in the constituency. He won by a narrow margin in 2013, chiefly owing to 5 other Muslim candidates in the fray and AAP’s Kapil Kumar Dhama securing close to 20,000 votes. In 2008 elections too, Mustafabad saw 8 Muslim candidates in the fray including Sher Khan Malik (on BSP ticket) who cornered more than 14000 votes.
BJP knows it has a fair chance of winning from both these constituencies if the minority vote remains divided and a portion of it falls in BJP’s kitty. Muslim Minority Morcha, under the leadership of Abdul Rasheed Ansari, has held several meetings already in these areas, in order to bring minorities closer to the BJP. Delhi State President of Minority Morcha, Atif Rasheed, is even carrying out an aggressive membership campaign from the minority community and has targeted one lakh BJP members from the community prior to the forthcoming assembly election. Atif already claims having made more than 35,000 members in Delhi.
The forthcoming Assembly elections will be crucial as the Narendra Modi’s charisma will be tested yet again. At the same time, it will be a do-or-die situation for AAP, which has already declared candidates for most of the Assembly constituencies. Congress too would like to salvage some of its lost prestige by improving on the poor 8 in 2013. Every seat will matter and it remains to be seen in whose kitty these seats with Minority-dominated populace will fall into.