A high polling percentage in Delhi's Muslim-dominated areas on May 12 has turned out to be a worrying cause for the three major political parties -- Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- which were locked in a triangular contest in the Lok Sabha elections.
The Muslim community, which plays a decisive role in three of the seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi, turned out in a good number on voting day, especially in the areas they dominate.
In Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi and East Delhi parliamentary constituencies, Muslims are a sizeable population.
The votes of the Muslim community consolidating in favour of a single party (AAP or Congress) would be bad news for all three parties but a split in this support base will benefit the BJP, say political analysts.
On Sunday, Delhi registered an overall turnout of 60.5 per cent while the constituencies with a sizeable population of Muslims saw an impressive voting percentage.
Despite the scorching heat and roza (fasting) during the holy month of Ramzan, Ballimaran reported 68.3 per cent polling while Shaku Basti, Matia Mahal and Seelampur recorded 68.7 per cent, 66.9 per cent and 66.5per cent respectively.
In the absence of community-wise break-up of votes, it cannot be said for certain what percentage of these numbers comprises Muslims in these areas. However, as these figures represent the vote in Muslim-dominated areas, it can be assumed that Muslims constitute the majority of the vote.
Trilokpuri polled 65.4 per cent, Mustafabad 65.2 per cent, Babarpur 62.1 per cent and Chandni Chowk 59.4 per cent. Okhla was one of the exceptions, recording a much lower 54.8 per cent turnout. Besides, the other minority-dominated areas such as Mustafabad and Babarpur recorded 65.22 per cent and 62.14 per cent polling respectively.
Delhi recorded a voting percentage of 60.34 per cent in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections, five per cent less than the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In 2014, Ballimaran clocked 67.17 per cent while Matia Mahal recorded 66.81 per cent. Okhla and Seelampur recorded 58.21 per cent and 68.11 per cent polling, respectively.
According to experts, much of the Muslim vote is likely to go to either Congress or AAP and any split in it may cause worry for them as it actually helps BJP.
IANS spoke to many of the Muslim voters and found that Muslims in many areas have favoured Congress over APP in the elections.
"People were angry with the Centre and they expressed their anger by coming out in large number on the day of voting. They knew that the elections were national and voting AAP would only benefit the ruling party," Anjum Jafri, a jounalist told IANS.
Asked about possibility of division in Muslim votes, he said: "If there is 50:50 split, it can be called a division but the situation is different. The ratio is 85:15," he said.
Naeem Ansari, a resident of Jafarabad area of North East Delhi claimed that there were many locals in his area, who were devoted AAP voters but they were of the view that supporting Congress would be better for the Lok Sabha polls.
"This election was not for a corporator or MLA but for an MP. As the fight was with the BJP, they chose to go with 'big' among the AAP and the Congress," Ansari said.
Congress too claimed that 80 per cent of Muslim votes had gone in its favour as people saw it as a best choice against the BJP, which had created a fear psychosis among members of the community.
Delhi Congress working president and former Delhi minister Haroon Yusuf said voters in these areas are most affected by policies of the BJP government and they came out to vote in large numbers.
"Rahul Gandhi (Congress President) tried to give a message by continuously challenging Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) that he can fight for their cause, be it Muslims or Dalits. So, I can say 80 per cent of them have come out to support the Congress," he told IANS.
During campaigning in Muslim-dominated areas, the two parties appealed to voters to vote "wisely" as any spilt in their votes would benefit the BJP.
The BJP claimed that regardless of whether or not the Muslim vote was split, the party would benefit.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Pravin Shankar Kapoor told IANS: "If the Muslim vote polarises, there would be a definite polarisation among Hindus which would benefit us. It is evident who benefits in case of division in their votes."
However, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, who is seeking re-election from Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency, told IANS that he does not believe parties would necessarily benefit if high polling takes place in either Hindu-dominated or Muslim dominated ones.
"I never did politics in the name of Hindus or Muslims. If you ask how many Muslims are there in my constituency, I would not be able to give you the figure. But I am confident that many of the Muslims will vote for me," he said.