Chandni Chowk (New Delhi), April 10: Anger, hope, uncertainty… Voters in Old Delhi, home to a large number of Muslims, were in different moods as they voted in Chandni Chowk constituency.
The Muslim-dominated Ballimaran area in Chandni Chowk has always been a Congress stronghold. In fact, outgoing MP and central minister Kapil Sibal won the last two elections hands down from here.
However, this time, the mood is not upbeat – for the Congress. A bevy of prominent Congress workers huddled near a polling centre spoke in hushed tones. Unlike earlier times, they were not passionately cajoling people to vote for their party.
They had their own misgivings. “The BJP will win if the Muslim vote gets divided,” a Congress worker told an AAP supporter while sharing a cup of tea with him. The voters appear to want to experiment this time.
“What has Congress given to us apart from price rise and corruption?” asked Shakil Ahmed, 32, a software engineer. “I am going to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party,” he said, as he made his way to a polling booth.
Kapil Sibal looks to have failed to fulfil the local aspirations. “I don’t find a convincing reason as to why I should vote for the Congress. Can BJP be really worse than the Congress?” asked Shanu, 23, a student at Delhi’s Madrasa Husain Baksh at Jama Masjid.
The issues of education and health too remain unaddressed, some voters told IANS. “In the last 10 years, Kapil Sibal despite being the HRD minister could not provide a concrete roof to the Qaumi Senior Secondary School in Eidgah that runs in tents,” complained social worker Syed Maroof Hasan.
“Similarly, the promise to develop the MCD dispensary at Lal Kuan into a hospital has remained just a promise,” he added. Surprisingly, unlike in most parts of Delhi, polling began on a dull note in Ballimaran.
“The voting has been very slow since morning,” a polling officer said somewhat dejectedly. But it picked up pace later. The reason for the low turnout in the morning could be that a lot of people were undecided who to vote for, said some residents.
While Muslim voters in general rule out voting for the BJP, they are not sure about AAP candidate Ashutosh, a former journalist. “I am in a dilemma. Kapil Sibal hasn’t done anything worthwhile for the area but we don’t know Ashutosh too well either,” said Mohd Faisal, 30, a resident of Pahari Bhojla near Jama Masjid.
While Muslims seem to be drifting towards the AAP, others wonder if voting for AAP candidates will resolve the bigger picture. “I have voted for the BJP,” said Naveen Chandok, 65, a Ballimaran resident. “To support the AAP or any other party will amount to wasting your vote.”
There is no dearth of Congress supporters either. “We are voting for Congress as always,” gloated Zahid Ali, a resident of Quraish Nagar near Sadar Bazaar, an area populated by people involved in the business of meat.