New Delhi: Even though South Delhi Lok Sabha constituency has been held by the Bharatiya Janata Party more number of times than any other party, a triangular contest between the BJP, Aam Aadmi Party and Congress may be developing when Delhi goes to the polls on 12 May. In South Delhi, BJP’s sitting MP Ramesh Bidhuri is facing Congress’ boxer-turned-politician Vijender Singh and AAP’s Raghav Chadha.
In 2014, Bidhuri won the seat with a margin of 1.07 lakh votes over AAP’s Devinder Sehrawat. This time, he claims that he will treble that margin. “Last time, I won because of Narendra Modi. There have been historic developments in the last five years. This time, our percentage of votes will be more; there will be a minimum margin of three lakh votes in Delhi. We had appealed to the previous governments seeking funds for construction of railway foot over-bridges in my area, but for 40 years, the proposal was rejected on the excuse of having no funds. When we came to power, three railway foot over-bridges were built,” Ramesh Bidhuri told The Sunday Guardian.
“Earlier people used to travel for 6 km via Badarpur from Sarita Vihar to Noida. Now, it hardly takes 10 minutes to reach. Also, travellers from Vasanj Kunj to the airport had to face horrible traffic congestion at Mahipalpur, but now commuters can travel without any hassle. People’s love for BJP was visible when thousands joined me while I filed my nomination on 23 April,” Bidhuri added.
On the other hand, Raghav Chadha in his Gundaraj Mukti Yatra roadshow said: “For me, this election is BJP vs the people.” He blamed Ramesh Bidhuri for the “deteriorating law and order situation in South Delhi”.
While, Vijender Singh told media that coming from a poor family, he understood the plight of the people. He said, “I don’t wish to be the neta who visits once in five years. I am not going to do rallies or road shows. I am going to connect with the voters spontaneously.”
However, Bidhuri said, “Congress had no candidate in South Delhi. Congress workers, including Mahabal Mishra, Sushil Kumar, Yoganand Shastri, all had refused to contest the election. That’s why they are fielding celebrities. On the other hand, Raghav Chadha is an amateur and does not have any political knowledge.”
Among voters of Palam, Mehrauli, Chhatarpur, Sangam Vihar, Kalkaji, Tughlakabada and Badarpur, the mood appeared circumspect.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Harsh Solanki, a property dealer from Palam, said, “Any educated person will vote for Narendra Modi, hence the BJP. Though Arvind Kejriwal had promised to transform Delhi’s unauthorised colonies into London and Paris, AAP has failed to keep its promises. There is no mohalla clinic nearby. The Congress is not there in the picture.”
Asked about his expectations from elections, Lajbir Singh, a retired Delhi Transport Corporation official, said, “Kejriwal is good for Delhi, but Modi is better for India. I voted for BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and AAP for the 2015 Assembly elections.”
Subhash Kumar, a vegetable seller who is a migrant from Bihar and has been living in Palam for 15 years, said that land encroachment is a major issue. “Earlier, we faced issues of inflated bills because of malpractice and monopoly of power companies, but AAP kept its promise to bring down electricity rates. Kejriwal has also kept his promise of 20,000 litres of free water per month to every household. Whoever comes to power, I request the party to look into illegal encroachment of roads by vendors in Palam village.”
Kishan, a resident of Saharanpur and now living in Palam village, said, “The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials come with sealing notice, but when they are paid well by the shopkeepers, the matter is forgotten. People are not happy with AAP. There will be a division of votes between the Congress and AAP. On the other hand, people suffered huge setbacks during demonetisation and whatever we saved, went down the drain. BJP is only concerned about the rich.”
Prithwi Rawat, the president of a Resident Welfare Association (RWA) in Palam village, said, “Migration is the main problem in Delhi, unemployment is an outcome of that. We have faced water scarcity throughout Dwarka and Palam region for years. Kejriwal at least tried to ease the crisis. I do not expect much from the other political parties.”
But Devender Nagar, a businessman residing in Molarband, said, “It is not going to be a triangular fight, it will be a fight between Congress and BJP. Gujjar votes will go to Bidhuri, because he connects well with people. He has helped many get their pension; Rs 2,500 monthly pension has been guaranteed to all.”
Both Bidhuri and Vijender Singh’s popularity among Gujjar and Jat voters is concentrated in the urban villages of the constituency.
Chowdhury Devi Ram, a trader from Tughlakabad, said, “We will vote for who is worthy. Gujjar votes will go to BJP, Sikh votes will go to Congress and to some extent to AAP; Muslim votes will get divided between AAP and Congress.”
On the other hand, Deep Narayan, a retired Rashtrapati Bhavan employee from Chhatarpur, said, “Party loyalty is one of the deciding factors this election. Congress was good for the country. We do not receive our pension on time.”
When asked about the caste factor, BJP’s Vijay Jolly said, “People will move beyond caste and vote for vikas. AAP and Congress candidates are novice in politics. This will be a vote for development. The possibility of an AAP-Congress alliance has exposed the hypocrisy of both the parties.”