In the last day of campaigning for the Delhi election on Thursday, just before the campaign stopped, pamphlets reached the houses of Delhiites in Muslim neighbourhoods claiming that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is the “messiah of Muslims”. In the poster carrying the AAP symbol, Kejriwal is seen wearing a forged Islamic skull cap. To complete the Muslim look, Kejriwal sports a keffiyeh around his shoulders.
While ‘BJP/Modi polarising/divisive figure’ is a commentary media has learnt by rote, the polarising act by the AAP is not likely to occupy prime time on news television or front-page news headlines.
The AAP poster appeals to Muslims of Delhi: “Vote for Kejriwal for the betterment of the community. Kejriwal is the messiah of the community. A vote for Modi is like digging the grave of his community. Vote for the community.”
In these pamphlets, “a true Muslim” appears as the appellant at the bottom. While this is not typically how party campaign literature appears, the pamphlet does carry the AAP election symbol of a broom.
The pamphlet that reached every Muslim neighbourhood this morning at a time when the AAP is seen as supportive of the Shaheen Bagh squatting protest whereas the BJP has positioned itself against the demonstrators. The BJP describes Shaheen Bagh as Tauheen Bagh (garden of insult), with Home Minister Amit Shah appealing to voters to send a current through Shaheen Bagh with their votes. Seeing Hindu votes consolidating in favour of the BJP as a backlash, of course, prominent faces of AAP like Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia have stopped endorsing the obstructionists.
Kejriwal now taunts Shah, calling him the “strongest man in India” who “cannot remove a blockade”. which “should not take more than 10 minutes”.
This brazen communal act by the AAP follows its Okhla MLA Amanatullah seeking votes in the name of Allah some days ago.
About 12% of the voters in Delhi are Muslim. They play a decisive role in eight assembly seats of the capital. With typical AAP offers of freebies, it expects to get votes from slums additionally whereas the voting preference in unauthorised colonies is now divided between the AAP and BJP after the Narendra Modi Cabinet made a pro-corruption but practical decision on illegal colonies of Delhi in October 2019 to regularise these neighbourhoods, giving 40 lakh people legal ownership of their cheek-by-jowl tenements. The very next month, Lt Governor Anil Baijal announced that the Prime Minister Unauthorised Colonies in Delhi Awas Adhikar Yojana (PMUDAY) scheme will be implemented in all these colonies.
While the INC appeared to have been on a path of revival in Delhi under the leadership of the late Sheila Dikshit during the Lok Sabha election campaign, pushing the AAP to a third position, the death of the three-term chief minister has marred chances of the party, political observers believe.