The Congress is confident that its vote bank, be it Muslims, Dalits and low income groups, who had shifted to the AAP in the 2015 Assembly polls, will return to its fold after seeing the Kejriwal party's "failure" in fulfilling its pre-poll promises.
Caste equations and unauthorised colonies are in focus in the North-East Delhi parliamentary constituency from where political heavyweights – three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and AAP’s Dilip Pandey -will try their luck in the May 12 polls. The constituency has the highest concentration of Poorvanchalis, Muslims and migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who play a decisive role during elections.
The Congress is confident that its vote bank, be it Muslims, Dalits and low income groups, who had shifted to the AAP in the 2015 Assembly polls, will return to its fold after seeing the Kejriwal party’s “failure” in fulfilling its pre-poll promises. The party has fielded Dikshit, who ruled Delhi for 15 years till 2013, against BJP’s incumbent MP and party’s Delhi unit president Tiwari and Aam Aadmi Party’s Dilip Pandey who is making debut in this election. Pandey is also former AAP’s Delhi unit convenor.The constituency has around 23 per cent Muslims, concentrated largely in Mustafabad, Seelampur and Ghonda assembly segments. There are about 1.43 crore voters in the national capital which send seven members to Parliament. The city goes to polls on May 12.
According to the chief electoral office, there are around 22.89 lakh voters in the North-East Lok Sabha constituency, and of these, nearly 12.52 lakh are male voters while there are over 10.37 lakh female voters. In the constituency, there are also some sections of people who appreciate the AAP government’s works in education and health sectors in the national capital.
Development in unauthorised colonies, bad roads and poor quality of water are also some poll issues on which basis people want to vote. Sunil Tyagi, a resident of Burari, said roads are in a bad state. “The supply of contaminated water is a regular affair. One cannot drink tap water.Roads in Burari area are not in a good condition. Dust here is the main source of bad air quality,” Tyagi said. There are nearly 270 unauthorised colonies and more than 46 slum clusters across 10 assembly constituencies falling in North-East Delhi.
Assembly constituencies- Burari, Seemapuri, Seelampur, Timarpur, Ghonda, Babarpur, Gokulpur, Mustafabad, Karawal Nagar and Rohtash Nagar are part of the North-East Delhi parliamentary constituency. Asked about her plans for North-East Delhi, Dikshit said she was saddened over “poor condition of roads and sanitation” in the area. “It makes me sad as essential things like roads and cleanliness are missing. Unless we do something about these, no city looks like one. Houses in the area are so haphazard, there is no planning,” she said.
“Nothing is done when houses and shops come up and then suddenly you say it’s illegal. That is very unfair. A city needs to be developed according to needs of the people. If you do not do so, you ruin the people and their livelihood means,” she also said. Dikshit successfully led the Congress in the 1998, 2003 and 2008 Assembly polls, but the party suffered a rout in the 2013 elections under her.
The Congress could not even open its account in the 2014 Lok Sabha and the 2015 Assembly elections in Delhi. On his part, BJP’s Tiwari said his priority is to provide pucca houses to slum dwellers in the North-East constituency. “I also want to develop Yamuna river front for which work is already moving in the right direction. Efforts will also being made to bring the Delhi Metro network to Burari area of North East Delhi.
“The constituency also witnesses traffic jams and I will also work to end this situation,” he said. Dilip Pandey, whose AAP has been raising the issue of full statehood to Delhi in this election, said the city is facing a ridiculous situation, adding powers of the elected government here are limited and have been curtailed by the Centre.
“We are fighting these elections on the plank of full statehood to Delhi. Once Delhi gets full statehood, most of the problems Delhi faces due to multiplicity of agencies would be solved which is our main poll plank,” Pandey said. Ramesh Sharma, a resident of Timarpur, is unhappy with incumbent BJP MP and party candidate Tiwari as he seldom came to his area.
“Since Tiwari become an MP, he came to Burari two or three times,” he claimed. In the 2014 general elections, Tiwari got 596125 votes, defeating AAP’s Anand Sharma who got 452041. Congress’ Jai Parkash Agarwal, who is now pitted against Union minister Harsh Vardhan and AAP’s Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk constituency, polled 214792 in the last Lok Sabha elections.