Vimal Mehra, a 55-year-old businessman who deals in watches, spends a good part of the day at Chandni Chowk. Mehra detests the congestion, chaos, broken roads and blocked sewers but felt he didn’t have a say in bringing about a change. This feeling of helplessness has changed along with the contours of the Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency.
Mehra is one of the thousands of businessman who work in Chandni Chowk but live elsewhere in the Capital. “Our voices were never heard because only those who live here were a votebank, not us,” he said.
The situation has changed now. Post delimitation, Chandni Chowk, which was the smallest parliamentary constituency in Delhi, has grown bigger. The number of assembly seats in the constituency has increased to 10 from four. Thanks to the change, areas like Model Town, Adarsh Nagar and Shalimar Bagh, where many of these traders live, are now part of the constituency.
“We have placed our demands many times but they remained unheard. The small 1.5 km-long stretch of Chandni Chowk has seen no development in the last 50 years,” said a trader who deals in carpets and doesn’t wish to be named. He lives in Roop Nagar which came under Sadar constituency earlier, but has now been merged with Chandni Chowk.
“Now that I am a voter of the area, my voice would at least carry some weight,” he said.
Kapil Sibal, sitting MP from Chandni Chowk and the Congress candidate for the forthcoming election, said: “I have been working with the trading community for the last few years and have given plans for re-development of the area. Work would be completed this year.”
The Vaish community now has the largest number of voters (17 per cent) in this constituency, post delimitation here.
The Bharatiya Janata Party believes traders in the constituency would help them as the community is traditionally supporters of the saffron party. “There has been no justice with the community in the area and they have been exploited. Now, they would get a voice because most of them have become voters of the area,” said Vijender Gupta, the BJP candidate from the constituency.