Delhi Violence: How BJP Poll Campaign Polarised Northeast Areas

Since 23 February there has been communal violence in northeast Delhi. BJP had done well here during Assembly polls.

Updated26 Feb 2020, 03:11 PM IST
Politics
4 min read

Mustafabad in northeast Delhi is one of the worst affected areas in the violence that has taken place since Sunday, 23 February. Homes and shops belonging to Muslims have been set on fire. Even a school wasn’t spared.

A few Muslim families are reported to have started fleeing from Mustafabad.

Mustafabad also happens to be one of the seats BJP was extremely bitter about losing in the recent Assembly elections in Delhi. BJP’s national social media head Amit Malviya put out a tweet making it almost seem as if BJP’s loss was the result of some kind of conspiracy.

So what angered Malviya was that BJP’s sitting MLA Jagdish Pradhan had a massive lead till Round 12. Only the Hindu-dominated booths had been counted till then. But AAP’s Haji Yunus swept the subsequent rounds. In rounds 17, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 – presumably Muslim-dominated polling booths – Yunus secured over 40,000 votes while Pradhan could manage just 900. Yunus won by around 20,000 votes.

Less than two weeks after the results, Mustafabad is burning.

Did BJP Consolidate Hindus in Northeast Delhi?

Mustafabad’s example shows us that the communal polarisation was in place even during the elections. This is true of all of northeast Delhi and parts of east Delhi as well.

The violence that has taken place since 23 February has been concentrated mainly in 8 Assembly constituencies:

  • Seelampur
  • Babarpur
  • Gokulpuri
  • Ghonda
  • Mustafabad
  • Karawal Nagar
  • Laxmi Nagar
  • Rohtas Nagar

Some of these seats witnessed the maximum gain for the BJP in terms of vote share, as compared to 2015.

For instance the increase in BJP’s vote share was 18.6 percentage points in Ghonda, 16.9 percentage points in Karawal Nagar and 14.6 in Gokalpur, indicating that the party succeeded in consolidating Hindu votes.

The rise was less in Seelampur, mainly because percentage of Hindus in the seat is less compared to others.

It’s not just about a rise in BJP’s vote share but also polarisation within constituencies – with Hindus consolidating behind BJP and Muslims behind AAP.

We’ve already discussed Mustafabad above. Another example lies right next to it – Karawal Nagar, which the BJP won. AAP’s Durgesh Pathak got over 80 percent votes in 5 heavily Muslim-dominated polling booths, while BJP’s Mohan Singh Bisht secured over two-thirds of the votes in all the Hindu-dominated booths.

Outside of east Delhi BJP didn’t quite succeed in consolidating Hindu votes in the same manner. Consider this – BJP won 6 out of 16 seats that lie on the east of river Yamuna and only 2 out of 54 seats in the rest of Delhi.

Clearly the consolidation appears to have been far more successful on the east.

As it is East Delhi has a history of communal violence. It was the worst effected by the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom and there was communal violence in Trilokpuri in 2014 as well.

BJP Leaders And Incendiary Slogans

Four out of eight seats that BJP won have witnessed communal violence in the last three days: Karawal Nagar, Ghonda, Rohtas Nagar and Laxmi Nagar.

In fact, a video has surfaced in which BJP MLA from Laxmi Nagar, Abhay Verma, can be seen leading a march in his area where incendiary slogans were being chanted. The video was shared by AAP MP Sanjay Singh.

In the video, Verma can be seen walking with his supporters who are heard chanting provocative slogans like “Police ke hatyaaron ko, goli maaro s***** ko (Shoot those who killed our policemen)" and “Jo Hindu hit ki baat karega, wohi is desh mein raj karega (Those who favour Hindus will rule in this country)".

This incident was confirmed by News18 journalist Uday Singh Rana as well.

Another BJP leader who has been accused of inciting violence is Kapil Mishra. He was the AAP MLA from Karawal Nagar before he joined BJP and contested from Model Town and lost.

He is accused of making a provocative speech on Sunday.

Mishra threatened that if police doesn’t “clear” the Jafrabad main road that had been blocked by anti-CAA protesters in three days, his supporters would take matters into their own hands.

Violence began a few hours after his speech and Jafrabad became one of the epicentres of the violence.

BJP’s Special Focus on Northeast Delhi

Kapil Mishra’s threat and the incendiary slogans by Abhay Verma’s supporters are only an extension of the kind of campaign BJP ran during the Delhi elections, with Anurag Thakur chanting “Goli Maaro S***o ko” and BJP MP Parvesh Verma accusing anti-CAA protesters of being rapists.

The party's communally charged campaign targeted anti-CAA protesters, most of whom are Muslims. The rhetoric was sharpest in northeast Delhi.

In a rally in Babarpur in northeast Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah exhorted people to press the EVM button in such a way that the current is felt by anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh. In Gokalpuri, he alleged that Hindu women are being “raped” and Hindus are being “forcibly converted” in Muslim countries.

Amit Shah devoted a great deal of his energy to this area as well. These were some of his functions in northeast Delhi during the campaign:

  • Rally in Karawal Nagar (24 January)
  • Rally in Mustafabad (24 January)
  • Rally in Gokalpuri (24 January)
  • Dinner at a Karyakarta’s House, Yamuna Vihar (24 January)
  • Roadshow in Ghonda (26 January)
  • Rally in Rohtas Nagar (26 January)
  • Rally in Babarpur (26 January)
  • Roadshow in Seemapuri (5 February)

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also addressed a rally in Karawal Nagar, in which he said “boli se nahi to goli se maanenge (if they don’t agree with words, we have bullets)". He also alleged that anti-CAA protesters were driven by the same mentality that led to creation of Pakistan.

Second-rung leaders also held a number of events in this area:

Maujpur, Seelampur

  • Nityanand Rai (Nukkad Sabha) - 1 February
  • Mahesh Sharma (Nukkad Sabha) - 3 February
  • Manoj Tiwari (Roadshow) - 6 February

Rest of Seelampur

  • Nitin Gadkari (Nukkad Sabha) - 29 January
  • Thavar Chand Gehlot (Nukkad Sabha) - 2 February

Karawal Nagar

  • Manoj Tiwari (public meeting) - 3 February
  • Santosh Gangwar (public meeting) - 5 February
  • Manoj Tiwari (roadshow) - 6 February
  • Shivraj Singh Chouhan (roadshow) - 6 February
  • Brij Bhushan Saran Singh (Nukkad Sabha)- 6 February

Mustafabad

  • Hardeep Puri (Nukkad Sabha) - 31 January
  • Manoj Tiwari (Public Meeting) - 3 February

Ghonda

  • Hardeep Puri (Nukkad Sabha) - 31 January
  • Manoj Tiwari (Roadshow) - 6 January
  • Shaina NC (Roadshow) - 6 February

Babarpur

  • Santosh Gangwar (Nukkad Sabha) - 5 February
  • Manoj Tiwari (Roadshow) - 6 February

Gokulpuri

  • Dushyant Gautam (distribution of regularisation forms) - 4 January
  • Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ (Yuva Sammelan) - 29 January

Rohtas Nagar

  • Devendra Fadnavis (Padyatra and Nukkad Sabha) - 2 February
  • Santosh Gangwar (Nukkad Sabha) - 5 February
  • Satpal Maharaj (Nukkad Sabha) - 5 February
  • Piyush Goyal (Nukkad Sabha) - 6 February

Laxmi Nagar

  • Devendra Fadnavis (Padyatra and Nukkad Sabha) - 2 February
  • Smriti Irani (Public Meeting) - 6 February

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Published: 26 Feb 2020, 02:48 PM IST
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