The heavy turnout in Muslim-dominated areas of the capital on Thursday in many ways became a game-changer for the three main parties in the capital. With the electorate mostly appearing to be disenchanted with the Congress, it seemed to have narrowed down to a straight fight between the BJP and the AAP, at least in Delhi.
While the BJP pointed to the record turnout as “evidence of the Modi wave”, AAP volunteers said they were encouraged by the “heavy turnout” in Muslim-majority areas of the city, especially in Central and South Delhi.
A part of town known for starting the day “a little late”, Ballimaran in Old Delhi was abuzz with activity early Thursday as voters trooped into polling stations to cast their votes in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections 2014.
Though the election was national, the issues that mattered to the voters were local. “There are no good quality schools here. Those who leave these narrow lanes and manage to get an education struggle for jobs. Who do we blame? This is the constituency of a former HRD minister,” Syed Hamid Hussian, a voter, said.
Another resident, Basheeruddin pointed to the roads and said those with medical emergencies could not be taken to hospital because of the bad condition of the roads.
“Azadi ke baad humne sabse zyada Congress ko chaaha par unhonne hamein kya diya? (We loved Congress the most since Independence, but what have they given us?” he said.
Eighty-one-year-old Aamina Khatoon, who cast her vote in Jama Masjid, said she had pressed NOTA as “no candidate was capable of leadership” this election.
The Muslim-dominated constituency of Chandni Chowk, which has been a Congress bastion, recorded 66.8 per cent voter turnout.
In New Delhi constituency, Neha Firdous, accompanied by other women members of her family, said they had voted keeping women’s security and inflation in mind.
“We have daughters at home and this is a very important issue for us. But we would never vote for anyone who play divisive politics,” she said.
In Northwest Delhi, Muslim leaders mobilised the community to vote in large numbers for the BJP.
“I was a BSP worker for the last 10 years, but this time, we took a collective decision to not vote against a party, but to vote for development. That is why we have voted for the BJP,” Farzana Begum, a resident of Kirari, said.
Though “no candidate visited their area”, first-time voters in Batla House were thrilled at the prospect of exercising their franchise. Nineteen-year-old Rabia said, “For as long as I can remember we have been buying cans of drinking water because the piped water is not fit for drinking.”
Voters across Okhla echoed her complaint. “No candidate raised this issue in their election campaign because none of them are aware of the problem of potable water here. How will they know when they do not get off their vehicles,” Aabida, a resident, said.