An interesting contest is on the cards in ward number 21 situated in the heart of old Bhopal. A political novice will face the son of a well-known politician in the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls scheduled on January 31.
The area that boasts of the historic chowk and localities like Imami Gate, Jehangiria School, Pir Gate, Qazipura, Gujarpura, Nadeem Road, Hawa Mahal and Kumharpura has retained much of its old flavour even in these days.
Residents, who live in the densely-populated mohallas of the old city, proudly proclaim themselves to be real Bhopalis for faithfully preserving the culture and tradition of the area.
All-time rivals Congress and BJP have fielded Vatsayan Jain 'Sonu' Bhabha and Pradeep Jain respectively on this prestigious seat. While Jain is a contractor, Bhabha is the son of veteran Congress leader Ashok Jain Bhabha.
Party Insiders said Vatsayan is banking upon his father's hold in the area to wrest the seat from the BJP nominee. However, Jain has no other than chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan canvassing for him on the streets of the old city.
Political experts said it is advantage Vatsayan here as Jain is a new face in politics. The senior Bhabha has been a public figure for decades and commands respect from not just his party men, but from leaders of other parties too, they added.
Incidentally, both the parties have fielded candidates from the Jain community which forms a formidable chunk of the population here. However, it may not be a cakewalk, for either Vatsayan or Jain. Local residents are not happy with the way previous corporators have neglected the ward.
Independent candidate Mahesh Saini, who was once the corporator of the ward, may also spoil the game for both the BJP and Congress. He is contesting on the carrot symbol this time.
Maya Verma, a resident of Gujarpura, said there were a host of problems that plague the locals. "We have to put up with poor power supply and bad roads," Verma, who is pursuing post-graduation, added.
"It is the heart of old Bhopal, but the area faces a number of problems. The traffic system needs to be streamlined as it is the worst in the state capital and there is congestion on the roads throughout the day," Gyan Singh, who lives near Rafiqia School, said.
To strike a chord with the residents, candidates have raised the issues of congestion and garbage. Almost all the candidates in the fray have also harped on the lack of an underbridge and an overbridge in the area.
The ward has a population of 16,000 voters out of which Jains, Agarwals and Banias account for nearly 5,000 voters. Muslims account for around 7,000 voters and there is also a considerable OBC population.