In Jamia Nagar, they came in droves to vote for change

November 29th, 2008 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) With the controversial Sep 19 Jamia Nagar shootout and the pathetic infrastructure in their area on mind, people in the Muslim-dominated Okhla constituency came out in large numbers Saturday to vote for change in the Delhi assembly elections. Development — or the lack of it — and the gunbattle in Batla House locality in which two alleged terrorists and a police officer were killed were the chief concerns of the candidates and voters.

People of this constituency — which includes Jamia Nagar and with over 60 percent Muslim voters — said they were unhappy with the performance of sitting legislator Parwez Hashmi of the Congress.

“We want change, the legislator has not done anything either for the development of this constituency or for getting a judicial inquiry ordered into the Jamia Nagar encounter,” said Shamshad Ansari, 49, a businessman in Batla House.

Ajmal Ahmad, 48, has similar views. “We want someone who can bring development to this region, someone who can understand the social and economic problems of the people,” Ahmad, a travel agent, told IANS.

Anger against Hashmi, earlier a transport minister in the Delhi government, was palpable across the constituency.

He has a strong opponent in Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Asif Mohammad Khan, brother of former union minister Arif Mohammad Khan.

“I have been seeing Asif working and fighting for the people of this area. He is always available for interaction. I am sure he will win,” said Shabbir Jamal, 62, who runs a telephone kiosk.

Khan is respected for his simple living.

“He uses a scooter, he has no car, you can stop him anywhere,” said Faisal Khan, 34, who runs a furniture shop. Politician Khan also lives in a simple two-room flat.

The Okhla region saw an unexpectedly high turnout of women at polling centres.

“This is the first time I cast my vote. I am feeling excited and responsible since I have to choose my representative,” said Samreen Naz, a 20-year-old student of English literature in Jamia Millia Islamia University.

In most constituencies of Delhi, the fight is between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. But in Okhla it appears to be a straight contest between the Congress and the RJD. Okhla has almost 200,000 electors.

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