“There is a lot of confusion still among Muslim voters and the picture will possibly get clearer a day or two before the voting day. It was almost one-sided for AAP earlier, but things have changed and in Seelampur constituency, the fight appears to be between AAP and Congress” says Mohd Shakir, who has a post-graduate degree from Delhi University but runs a small retail shop in Jafarabad.
There is little sign of the campaign as one walks through the congested lanes, inhabited largely by Muslims. People are reluctant to talk and need to be gently coaxed into sharing their opinion.
Since 1993, when Delhi Assembly was first constituted, Muslims have represented the constituency and Chaudhary Mateen represented it for 21 years whereas for the last five years Aam Aadmi Party’s Haji Ishraque alias Haji Bhure was the MLA.
But this time AAP has replaced Haji Ishraque with local AAP Councillor Abdul Rehman. “This is not a good decision because Haji Ishraque was not corrupt and was active in the area. By changing the candidate Kejriwal has given the message that it is he who matters and not the candidate and because of this, people of the constituency may vote for the Congress this time” says Syed Iqbal Zafar.
There are, however, people who say that the AAP government has worked a lot for the people. “Kejriwal government is the only government which has worked for the people of the state and for his work people will vote for him. In this election people will vote for work” says Mohd Idrees of Maujpur area.
There is 35% of Non-Muslim population in the constituency and BJP has fielded Kaushal Mishra as its candidate but till date, BJP has never won from this constituency. Kaushal Mishra is focussing on areas where Non-Muslims are in majority and he has even declined the offer to do some rallies in the Muslim areas.
Chaudhary Mateen, whose Kanwar camp is very famous in the whole country as it was symbolic for communal harmony, enjoys the support of both the communities. “Congress has worked a lot in every field and around 50% of the Non-Muslim voters will vote for Congress this time because they are fed up with both BJP and AAP,” says Chaudhary Mateen, four-time MLA and the Congress candidate.
In the last Assembly election in 2015, the AAP candidate polled more than 57 thousand votes and Congress MLA Chaudhary Mateen was placed third, even below the BJP candidate Sanjay Jain, who received more than 29 thousand votes whereas Mateen secured over 23 thousand votes.
Though in 2013 and 2008 elections Mateen had polled around 47 thousand votes, in 2015, when there was a wave of AAP, Muslims opted for AAP which resulted in the defeat of Congress.
Mateen claims the tide is turning as people have now seen the working of AAP whereas in 2015 the party was new and there was anti-incumbency against Congress.
“In 2019 Lok Sabha elections Congress got more than 64 thousand votes from Seelampur constituency and AAP got merely 10 thousand votes,” he points out.
Though voters vote differently in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections but because of CAA and NRC, this Assembly elections are taking the shape of semi-national elections and this has created confusion among Muslim voters as they want to see BJP defeated plus they want to address their concern for CAA and NRC where Congress and the left are in the forefront.