New Delhi: The final Election Commission figures of the Delhi polls show the Congress, which drew a blank, see its votes in the Muslim dominated seats shift to not only the AAP but also to the BJP.
The BJP’s polarising campaign built around the anti-citizenship law protests taking place at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh helped the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won all the five seats — Ballimaran, Matia Mahal, Mustafabad, Okhla and Seelampur — where Muslims are estimated to constitute over 50 per cent of the population.
The AAP fielded Muslim candidates on all these five seats.
They included Shoaib Iqbal at Matia Mahal assembly seat, Imran Hussain at Ballimaran, Amanatullah Khan at Okhla, Haji Yunus at Mustafabad and Abdul Rehman at Seelampur.
There are around seven more constituencies where the Muslim population is between 30 and 50 per cent — Shahdara, Babarpur, Seemapuri, Sadar Bazar, Nand Nagri, Kirari and Chandni Chowk.
Although the AAP won in all these 12 seats, according to the EC data the Congress vote in Sadar Bazar, Babarpur, Kirari and Shahdara went solely to the BJP.
The BJP didn’t field a single Muslim candidate in the Delhi elections.
The Congress, which traditionally held a sway over minority votes in the national capital — which has 13 per cent of Muslim population — was nowhere in the picture this time as the party either stood third or fourth in all these Muslim-dominated seats.
The Election Commission data, analysed by ThePrint, suggests that the Congress votes of 2015 in most — Matia Mahal, Mustafabad, Chandni Chowk, Seelampur, Seemapuri — of these 12 constituencies have gone to the AAP.
In Matia Mahal, the Congress had secured 26.75 per cent votes in 2015, which in 2020 was reduced to 3.85 per cent — a fall of 22.9 percentage points.
The AAP had secured 59.23 per cent votes in 2015, which went up to 75.96 per cent in 2020 — an increase of over 16 percentage points. The BJP, which got 11.33 per cent votes in 2015, has now secured 19.24 per cent votes — an increase of 7.91 percentage points.
In Okhla and Ballimaran seats, the Congress vote went to both the AAP and the BJP.
In Ballimaran, the Congress’ vote share reduced from 13.8 per cent in 2015 to 4.73 per cent.
The AAP had secured 59.7 per cent of the votes in 2015, which this time went up to 64.65 per cent.
The BJP, which got 24.3 per cent in 2015, improved its vote share to 29.03 per cent.
Mustafabad, earlier with BJP, now with AAP
The interesting constituency is Mustafabad, which was held by the BJP in 2015, but has now gone to the AAP.
In 2015, BJP candidate Jagdish Pradhan had won the seat with 35.33 per cent votes. The Congress had got 31.68 per cent votes and the AAP 23.06 per cent.
In 2020, the Congress just got 2.89 per cent votes — a fall of 28.79 percentage points. The votes largely shifted to AAP candidate Haji Hunus, who secured 53.2 per cent of the votes and won the seat.
The BJP improved its vote share to 42 per cent.
Biryani & Shaheen Bagh
During the Delhi election campaign, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP leaders had consciously avoided going to Shaheen Bagh — where Muslims have been protesting against the CAA for the last two months.
Even when Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was dominating TV screens, holding a copy of the Constitution and surrounded by a huge gathering of Muslims at Jama Masjid, the AAP leaders stayed away.
It was believed the AAP was apprehensive that their visits to Shaheen Bagh or the Jama Masjid would give an opportunity to the BJP to project them as a party that was trying to appease the Muslims.
The BJP did it, nonetheless, with a host of its leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, repeatedly raising the issue of Shaheen Bagh in their rallies and alleging that the AAP was hand-in-glove with the protesters.
Adityanath had said a Pakistan minister is supporting Kejriwal because ‘he knows only Kejriwal can feed biryani to protesters in Shaheen Bagh’.
Amid a communally-polarised election campaign, Shaheen Bagh became the BJP’s central poll plank — so much so that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Adityanath prominently raised it all throughout their campaigning.
The AAP, meanwhile, focused its election campaign solely on governance.
Even when the party was cornered by the BJP to speak on issues like removing protesters from Shaheen Bagh or how the protest was disrupting traffic in the area, Kejriwal shifted the onus on the central government under whose authority the Delhi Police functions.