Muslim community upset over zero representation in Delhi Lok Sabha election

de29 Aiyoob   | Photo Credit: de29 Aiyoob

Hona chahiye, kam se kam, ek to hona chahiye [There should be one. At least one],” said 46-year-old Kalimuddeeen, sitting outside a restaurant in Zakir Nagar main market. The construction businessman was speaking about the absence of Muslim candidates in the Lok Sabha election in Delhi.

With the three main political parties in the fray — BJP, AAP, and Congress — not announcing a single Muslim candidate, The Hindu travelled to three different areas in the city to find out the possible reasons.

Out of the many people interviewed in south Delhi’s Zakir Nagar, east Delhi’s Seelampur and Old Delhi’s Jama Masjid, some said there should have been at least one candidate from the community.

However, all of them agreed that there are issues that matter more: communalism, lynching, safety, and hyper-nationalism.

A week before the candidates were declared, four Congress leaders had written to party president Rahul Gandhi stating that there was resentment among the people and political circles for not giving a single ticket to any Muslim leader in Delhi.

Tie-up talks

Also, majority of the people said the Congress-AAP alliance would have won five of the seven seats in Delhi and now the minority votes are likely to get split between the parties, benefiting the BJP. Mr. Kalimuddeeen said, “When it comes to our issues about kabristan [graveyard] or mosque, a Muslim will understand it better.”

Mehmood Khan (42), who had come to supply books at a bookshop in the area, said: “If there was one Muslim candidate, then there would be someone to raise our voice. The communication would be better. Ek to banta hai [at least one is necessary].”

Forty-year-old Abdul Majid, owner of the bookshop, chimed in: “The Congress is also doing soft Hindutva. See, they do not think a Muslim can win a seat as Hindus are unlikely to vote for him.”

Many explanations were offered as to why no Muslim candidates are in the fray.

“It makes no difference whether there is a Muslim candidate or not. But the BJP would never give a seat to a Muslim and if the Congress does so it might lose Hindu votes. But they know that we will vote for a Hindu candidate,” said Mohammad Naveed, owner of Kallan Sweets, outside gate number 1 of Jama Masjid.

Peace above all

While morning walkers in central Delhi’s Lodi Gardens are worried about national security, and those in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri wonder when they will get better roads and drainage, the citizens in Muslim-dominated areas talk about lynching, peace, brotherhood and education.

“By their [government] silence and by not condemning it, they are accepting whatever is happening,” said Mr. Kalimuddeeen about the lynchings in the country.

“There is only one issue – aman [peace],” said Fazil Khan, who runs a milk supplying business.

The BJP fielding terror accused Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal and her controversial comments against former ATS chief Hemant Karkare were brought up by many.

Mohammad Tarique, who is pursuing a diploma in electrical engineering at Jamia Millia Islamia, will be a first-time voter on May 12.

“We sit in college and discuss whether what people say is right or not. Pragya ne jo Hemant Karkare saab ke baare me bola, vo galat hai [What Pragya said about Karkare is wrong]. She should not have been given a ticket,” the 18-year-old said.

Many others, including Mohammad Ayyoob (60), who sells lemon tea out of a hand cart, are worried about the attacks on Muslims.

“These days, a group of five can beat up and kill a man for being a Muslim. There will be no investigation. There is no difference between insaan [human] and jaanvar [animal]. It is happening everywhere for the past five years. We are also Hindustani. Our people have also fought for Independence,” he said.

Many people also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for votes in the name of Balakot air strike was wrong.

Lone BJP supporter

Sitting inside a shop selling coolers in Seelampur, 28-year-old Hilal Ahmad was the only one who said he would vote for the BJP.

Film mei dekha hai. Fan hu Manoj Tiwari [Delhi BJP chief] ka. Bigg Boss bhi dekha hai [I have seen Manoj Tiwari in movies. I am a fan. I have also seen him in Bigg Boss],” Mr. Ahmad said.

When asked about issues that matter to him most, he said he has not thought about them yet

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 4:07:09 PM |

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