- Shaheen Bagh is part of the Okhla constituency
- Long queues seen at polling station at school near Shaheen Bagh
- Anti-citizenship law protest on for nearly two months
At Shaheen Bagh, which became the nucleus of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) versus BJP battle for the Delhi election, voting took place on Saturday amid heavy security. Long queues were seen at polling stations in Shaheen Bagh, which has been in the headlines for the massive anti-citizenship law protest, featuring mainly women and children, for nearly two months.
Shaheen Bagh is part of the Okhla constituency in Delhi, which has a sizeable Muslim population.
The campaign for the Delhi election was deeply polarising; the BJP sought to portray those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Shaheen Bagh as "traitors" and "anti-national".
The party, which has been out of power in Delhi for 20 years, went all out in their narrative against Shaheen Bagh, with Home Minister Amit Shah urging voters to "push the button" of the Electronic Voting Machine so hard that the "current was felt in Shaheen Bagh".
Arvind Kejriwal and AAP fought to steer the campaign to development, schools, water, power and such local issues, but Shaheen Bagh ritually dominated poll rhetoric.
"I am voting for India and its Constitution. We are citizens of India," a woman waiting to vote at the Shaheen Public School was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"I feel people this time are voting for national issues," a woman told NDTV after casting her vote. "There are no local problems, water or electricity issues in our area. People should come out and vote."
One of the famed "dadis (grandmothers)" of Shaheen Bagh, rejoining the protest after casting her vote, said: "Delhi is not voting on Hindu-Muslim or Pakistan-India. We are voting on work, education, development."
All five polling stations in Shaheen Bagh have been declared ''critical'' by Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer.
AAP's Amanatullah Khan is the MLA from the area and the party's candidate. He faces Congress's Parvez Hashmi and BJP's Brahm Singh Bidhuri.
In the 2015 election, AAP had won a landslide victory by winning 67 of Delhi's 70 seats. The BJP won three and the Congress, none.
Shaheen Bagh gained nationwide attention due to the protest, mainly by Muslim women, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which enables Indian citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh if they escaped religious persecution and entered India before 2015. Protesters believe the law discriminates against Muslims, and along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify illegal immigrants, could be used to target undocumented Muslims.
Critics of the Shaheen Bagh protest, including the BJP, have also highlighted the traffic "blockade" because of the protesters on the road, and the inconvenience to hundreds travelling between Delhi and Noida.