This was Delhi’s most exclusive Parliamentary constituency — home to Connaught Place and fashionable residential addresses like Amrita Shergill Marg and Prithviraj Road.
The Parliamentary constituency’s Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone offers most sought after real estate in the country, with several properties belonging to some of the richest Indians, like industrialist Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal.
New Delhi has always been known as a ‘Babu’ constituency, but this includes the top brass in the government along with the Mausam Bhawan clerk — apart from the President, Prime Minister, and the Gandhi family at 10, Janpath.
“It hardly matters who comes and who goes. We are already taken care of as all politicians live here,” said writer and researcher Alpana Vasudev, a Pritviraj Road resident. Vasudev said bijli-paani was not an issue in this plush VIP pocket, but there were some niggling issues.
“Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone is the world’s most endangered protected site with a lot of encroachment. They are razing bungalows to build multi-storey buildings in Sunehri Bagh. How are they converting LBZ?” asked Vasudev, who admitted she did not know who her area MP was. For Vasudev, the most alarming development had been the loss of trees in the wake of work on Metro rail project. “They just butchered the trees near Dyal Singh College,” she said.
In its post-delimitation avatar, New Delhi has retained its core identity. But it has expanded its ambit from the tree-lined government enclaves in Lodi Road, Gole Market and Sarojini Nagar, to the bustle of Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar, and urbanised villages like Shahpur Jat and Kotla.
Lajpat Nagar residents MK Gandhi and his brother D Gandhi are two New Delhi voters who both live and work in the constituency. Their concern is the growing commercialisation and congestion in their area. “I will not vote as a trader but as a Lajpat Nagar-III resident,” said MK Gandhi.
“BJP is a bit old fashioned, but Congress cannot be allowed to splurge money on useless projects like the BRT,” said Manoj Gupta, a Kailash Colony shop owner, who felt BJP looked after the interests of small traders.
Gupta might feel secure about his business interests under BJP, but said the party’s campaign on terror was an “election stunt”.
Both Lajpat Nagar and Kailash Colony have a good number of post-partition settlers from Western Punjab. Yet a new generation is increasingly the deciding force here — setting a new agenda that includes not just jobs and personal favours from area MPs, but also security, stability and a better international presence.