Shaheen Bagh, other sites of anti-CAA protests go for AAP

Amanatullah bags Okhla seat. Okhla is not the only anti- CAA protest site that voted for AAP. In northeast Delhi’s Seelampur, that witnessed large-scale violence at an anti CAA protest, and has a sit-in protest by women going on now, AAP’s Abdul R...

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AAP's Amanatullah won the Okhla constituency by 71,675 votes
NEW DELHI: Shaheen Bagh, that has been at the centre of the Delhi election campaign, voted for Aam Aadmi Party candidate Amanatullah. He won the Okhla constituency by 71,675 votes, defeating BJP’s Brahma Singh and Congress candidate and former minister Parvez Hashmi.

However, it was not an easy feat for Amanatullah to convince the people of his constituency to vote for him as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal did not visit Shaheen Bagh or Jamia Milia University where police violence was reported.

Amanatullah himself did not get on to the stage in Shaheen Bagh to speak in favour of the protesters. But, according to his supporters, he did two things right – he ran a marathon campaign for 45 days, fasting till sunset each day, doing 22 meetings a day, visiting one in 10 houses each in Okhla. He also ensured treatment for those injured in protests, and fasted when some of them were detained. His campaigns were mostly indoor meetings, restricted to locals.


“In every meeting he started his speech opposing the CAA. Individually he has met all the women of the neighbourhood who took part in the protests. He promised them whatever help was required,” said Anwar Ilayar, one of the residents of Abul Fazal Enclave.

Besides the regular free water and electricity, a change in the Congress candidate from the expected Mohammed Asif to former minister Parvez Hashmi helped Amanatullah, who had won the constituency with 50,000 votes in 2015.

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Okhla is not the only anti- CAA protest site that voted for AAP. In northeast Delhi’s Seelampur, that witnessed large-scale violence at an anti CAA protest, and has a sit-in protest by women going on now, AAP’s Abdul Rehman defeated the BJP. Mateen Chaudhary of the Congress, considered a strong candidate came third. Chaudhary's campaign was centred around opposing the CAA. AAP changed the candidate from Mohammed Ishraque to Abdul Rehman at the instance of Amanatullah, sources said.

AAP also won the Chandni Chowk seat where the Jama Masjid is located. Jama Masjid is where Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad had protested against AAP.

Other areas which saw protests witnessed a similar trend. In Mustafabad that has a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims — AAP’s Haji Yunus defeated BJP’s Jagdish Pradhan.

"Some were expecting Muslim votes to get split as last time, which did not happen, as the Congress candidate is not popular," Rinku Jaiswal, a trader in this constituency said.

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In Matia Mahal and Ballimaran where there were marches against CAA, the AAP registered a victory.

In Tughlakabad where there were protests over Ramdas temple last year, and also, anti CAA protests which also saw police action recently — AAP retained its seat. Protests had also taken place in Govindpuri which falls in Kalkaji and Defence Colony that falls in Kasturba Nagar, both of which were won by AAP.

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An AAP member said that a large number of college students, mostly first time voters voted for AAP, because of "police violence in college campuses."

However party leaders are not denying that areas bordering sites of anti- CAA protests, particularly in places such as Laxmibai Nagar and Badarpur where the BJP won, the sentiment went against the AAP.

"From sharing the videos of Manish Sisodia supporting Shaheen Bagh, to spreading rumours about the party candidates giving land to build mosques, the bordering areas saw polarization...Yogi Adityanath's speeches here made an impact too," a party member said.

Sanjeer Alam, professor with CSDS- Lok Niti said not just Muslim voters, but even Muslim candidates had approached this election with a lot of caution. "This is a time when the community is feeling the most vulnerable, so it voted for a party that takes the middle ground. The community also feels the need for better facilities and it has realised that Congress leaders are a spent force."
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