A lot will be said about the results of the Delhi Assembly Elections. Some will say that Delhi has rejected BJP’s ‘divisive politics’, some will argue that Delhi has embraced the politics of communal harmony, some (for the nth time) will claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aura is fading and some will again declare that “Delhi feels like one big happy family this morning. Strangers smiling at each other, morning walkers hugging”.
However, there is one big takeaway from the results that cannot be missed and it will be extremely unfair to the man if his role in the Aam Aadmi Party’s stellar victory is ignored. That man, of course, is Amanatullah Khan. If there is one man who deserves great credit for solidifying the Muslim community behind AAP, the vote bank which was definitely greatly important for the AAP’s victory, it is Amanatullah Khan.
Ahead of the elections, there was great competition between the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress for the Muslim vote which is extremely significant in Delhi. Amidst the violence unleashed by the Muslim mobs in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act, the support of the Muslim community became all the more important considering the fact that the BJP was bound to gain electorally to at least some extent.
Under such circumstances, if there was one man who went out of his way to prove his loyalty to the Muslim community, it was Amanatullah Khan. Unfortunate as it may be, the campaign for winning the Muslim vote always seems to devolve into which party can align itself with the most radical sections of the community. And it wasn’t too different this time around.
While both parties schemed and plotted to win the Muslim vote, the Aam Aadmi Party’s strategy was much more comprehensive than that of the Congress. On one hand, there was Arvind Kejriwal who was busy chanting Hanuman Chalisa on national television. Then there was Sanjay Singh who advised the Shaheen Bagh protesters to introspect about their protests that were causing much disturbance to a great many citizens of Delhi. Then, of course, there was Amanatullah Khan who was spotted leading a violent riot against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the national capital.
Amanatullah Khan was also seen with Sharjeel Imam, the mastermind of the Shaheen Bagh protests who had urged Muslims to cut off North East India from the rest of the country. Sharjeel Imam is now rotting in prison. An FIR was also registered by Ghaziabad Police against Khan for inciting violence through his social media posts. It is also alleged that Khan made an inflammatory speech before violence broke out at Jamia Milia on the 15th of December.
Thus, while the likes of Arvind Kejriwal and Sanjay Singh were busy pretending that their hands were all clean, it was Amanatullah Khan who was busy on the streets demonstrating his party’s unwavering loyalty towards the most radical sections of the Muslim community. If there was any significant vote split among the Muslim community, it would have greatly benefited the BJP. Under these circumstances, it was Khan who ensured that this did not happen.
Amanatullah Khan’s victory from his own constituency was written in stone a long time ago. He contested from Okhla, the Muslim dominated constituency where Shaheen Bagh and Jamia, both, are located. The seat has never been won by a non-Muslim candidate. He had won from the same seat in 2015. Thus, his victory is not really surprising. His real task was ensuring that a significant vote-split did not occur.
In Mustafabad, another Muslim dominated constituency, the BJP had won in 2015 due to a vote split among Muslims between the Congress and the AAP. This time around, it was of paramount importance to ensure that such a vote split did not occur. Or the ramifications of it could have been disastrous for the party.
Of course, AAP’s strategy to garner the Muslim vote did not rest on Amanatullah Khan’s shoulders alone. And it had to be because the party received quite a stiff competition from the Congress party. Documents accessed by OpIndia showed that the Enforcement Directorate had discovered that the Shaheen Bagh protests are funded by the PFI and the chief of the Radical Islamic organizations was in constant touch with the leaders of both, the AAP and the Congress party.
In all of this, however, Amanatullah Khan had the single most important job, to establish beyond all doubt the AAP’s loyalty towards the Muslim vote base. And it certainly seems to have paid off. It was due to Amanatullah Khan that Manish Sisodia, after announcing his party’s support for the Shaheen Bagh protesters, could go on the offensive against the BJP demanding Sharjeel Imam’s arrest. It was because of Amanatullah Khan that Arvind Kejriwal could afford to be seen reciting the Hanuman Chalisa on national television without worrying about Muslim votes.
The only concern here for Arvind Kejriwal is that having won the elections riding on the back of Amanatullah Khan, it is only natural that the Muslim leader would demand a hefty reward. It remains to be seen what it is that Amanatullah Khan asks of Kejriwal and how low the Delhi Chief Minister will have to stoop in order to satisfy him.