On the penultimate day before campaigning comes to a close ahead of the election in Delhi on May 7, Congress candidate for New Delhi seat Ajay Maken decided to make inroads into one of the strongest BJP bastions in the city—Moti Nagar.
With little time in hand and too much ground to cover, Maken preferred to visit the area in an open Gypsy, wearing his white clothes and a smile.
Moti Nagar is one of the many areas that have been added to the New Delhi constituency, from where Maken is the sitting MP, in the delimitation exercise. The area is populated mainly by Punjabis who came here as refugees after the partition.
The crowd in Moti Nagar greeted him enthusiastically as an overcast sky provided some relief from the sun.
“People in Moti Nagar would vote for me because it is one of those areas that have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Master Plan. Apart from extra floors, many small shops have been allowed to operate from residential areas,” Maken said.
Maken shook hands with supporters and residents, greeted the elderly with folded hands and waved at those standing on the balconies of buildings, as the cavalcade moved through the lanes. Supporters offered him sweets and samosas and Maken made it a point to take a small bite from each packet.
“This is the first time Maken has come to the area. It is hard to say who will get the votes here because it is traditionally a BJP stronghold,” said Harish Kharbanda, a resident.
Maken, however, believes the trend is going to change. “I have been getting excellent feedback from the so-called BJP strongholds like Moti Nagar, Patel Nagar and Malviya Nagar,” he said.
“It does not matter who wins. No one is going to develop this area,” said Amarnath Walia, another resident, complaining about the bad roads and encroachments.
A shopkeeper who did not wish to be named said what Maken needed was a personal rapport with the voters. “He has a clean image and has done a lot to minimise the effects of sealing, this is basically a BJP area,” he said.