Shoaib seeks to retain stronghold

Close to the historical Jama Masjid, Matia Mahal area in the Assembly constituency with the same name is home to some of Delhi’s most famous eateries. Among then is the famous Karim’s restaurant, and Kallan Sweets which makes mouth-watering Habshi Halwa.

But the flavour of the month in these congested streets of  Old Delhi is politics. The residents seem to be getting into the poll mode.

The constituency might witness an exciting fight between Shoaib Iqbal, a five-time legislator from the seat and now a Congressman, Shakeel Anjum Dehlvi from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Asim Ahmed Khan of the Aam Aadmi Party.

Political workers are seen rushing from one point to another during the day, while loudspeakers mounted on cycle-rickshaws escort them for the campaign near Jama Masjid.
Shoaib Iqbal too not leaving anything to chance.

Between his rounds of campaigning, Iqbal said, “I will be victorious and would come out to meet the people thereafter.”

As he briskly walked past a row of shops, Iqbal did not forget to remind the voters that how he has been serving them since 1993. “Please do not forget, I am like your family member,” he told an elderly man, who acknowledged him with a hug.

Standing atop an open jeep on Thursday, he greeted the crowd, which comprised mostly of local shopkeepers and the traders. “I am confident of my victory as the electorate of the area are like my family members and they will not let me down,” he told Deccan Herald.

“I have been taking part in every sad or happy occasion like birthday and condolence meetings in the homes of my voters. Therefore, I am sure that voters in the constituency will never forget me.” added Iqbal.

Iqbal denied any negative impact of his decision to quit the Janata Dal-United and joining the Congress.

“I am contesting on a Congress ticket and people say the party’s chances are not good. But I am not scared. This Assembly election is between communal forces and secular forces. Thus, my party will win.”

He also said that he joined Congress as he felt that the social atmosphere in Delhi was being vitiated by the BJP while “some other parties want to divide the Muslim votes”.
Moin Hasan, a supporter of Iqbal, vouched for him.

“We all are here for the roadshow and have been campaigning for Iqbal since many years, we want a secular environment for Delhi. Therefore, our support is for Iqbal,” he said.

However, a segment of residents accused Iqbal of not taking development work forward.
“The area is in great need of infrastructural development. It has water shortage, cleanliness problem, ill-maintained overhead electricity wires and parking problems,” said Rehana Khatun, a primary school teacher.

Rehman Ali, a 56-year-old shopkeeper, said, “Every election comes with promises for us, but I have not seen anything being changed in the area.”

The constituency has 1,29,341 voters. out of which 53,765 are women. Iqbal won the last election on  a Janata Dal-United ticket by 2,891 votes.

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