Hoardings of the Aam Aadmi Party put up along the busy traffic intersection of Batla House in South Delhi have become the centre of attraction. The talk of the AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal evokes a passionate discussion across the largely Muslim neighbourhood.
While most are still indecisive, Junaid, a vegetable seller in Batla House, seems sure that the AAP will have his vote this time around. Though unsure of what the party had promised for his area, he is convinced of the AAP’s plank of honesty.
“I am not the only Muslim who has been voting for the Congress but has it really changed the everyday life for me and my family? We need to look for alternatives that go beyond just scaring us off the BJP and exploiting us as a vote bank,” said Junaid.
AAP leader and psephologist Yogendra Yadav is not surprised by the emerging pattern of support among Muslims.
A recent party survey shows that the AAP has managed to strongly challenge the support base of both the BJP, in its traditional vote bank of Sikhs and upper-class voters, and the Congress, among Muslims and low-income voters. With the sample size of 40,000 interviews, the survey shows that the AAP has managed to snatch at least half of the Congress support base among Muslims and the lower-income group that reside largely in unauthorised and resettlement colonies and jhuggi jhopri clusters.
The updated survey to be released in a week is expected to provide a detailed and clearer picture of how it will fare in each Assembly seat. In the last Assembly election, the BSP made a dent in the Congress vote share from among the lower-income classes which influenced the outcome in as many as 11 reserved seats. This time it would be the AAP, as the party has taken over Dalit votes from BSP, claimed Prof. Yadav, who has supervised two surveys to gauge AAP’s electoral prospects.
The BSP performed quite well as its total vote share in Delhi went up from 9 per cent in the 2003 Assembly election to 14 per cent in 2008. But he claimed that BSP has since sunk as a party in Delhi.
Encouraged by the positive feedback the AAP is continuing to furiously campaign among the Dalits and lower middle class living in unauthorised colonies. It has struck the right chord with the citizens by raising issues such as “inflated” water and power tariffs, argued Prof. Anand Kumar, a party ideologue who is a sociologist with Jawaharlal Nehru University.
More than targeting any specific group, Mr. Kumar said, the party has adopted a unique electoral outlook through its strategy of mobilising people around issues of governance and service delivery.