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Stalwarts on unfamiliar ground

delhi Updated: Oct 15, 2008 00:55 IST
Anuradha Mukherjee
Anuradha Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
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The new South Delhi parliamentary constituency is nothing like its namesake in the pre-delimitation era. From what used to be a posh, trader-centric political base, the newly drawn segment mainly comprises rural areas, unauthorised colonies and slums.

Carved mainly out of localities that were part of the Outer Delhi parliamentary segment, Kalkaji Assembly seat is the sole exception that used to be a part of the old South Delhi constituency. Nine of the 10 seats are from Outer Delhi.

Tughlaqabad MLA Ramesh Bidhuri of the BJP believes that the trifurcation of the Outer Delhi parliamentary segment into three different constituency will benefit his party.

“This used to be a Jat dominated constituency, now it is mainly Gujjar dominated, and a large number of Purbiya voters from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are also living in this area,” said Bidhuri.

On the other hand, Congress leaders like Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, who has recently quit the Nationalist Congress Party, say it was the Gujjar vote that would prove to be the undoing of the BJP here.

“Gujjars do not vote for the BJP and after the recent showdown in Rajasthan and elsewhere, this is highly unlikely,” said Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, who is acknowledged as a national Gujjar leader.

“If you add the votes Congress polled in the municipal elections and the votes I bring to the kitty, we are in a clear winning situation,” Bidhuri added.

Delhi assembly speaker Chaudhry Prem Singh says, “There is a little area from Pushp Vihar which has been added to Ambedkar Nagar. A small part from out seat has been added to the newly formed Deoli seat. Both Ambedkar Nagar and Deoli are Congress seats. I have worked in this area for 45 years and I am very happy with the changes. South Delhi parliamentary segment is now completely with the Congress.”

Ambedkar Nagar is a reserved seat and a considerable part of the electorate are Bahujan Samaj Party supporters, but Congress leaders are confident of winning this seat given Singh’s personal stature.

Kalkaji MLA Subhash Chopra is also optimistic. “My biggest advantage is that 70 per cent of my old Assembly seat has been retained under the Kalkaji seat. Sriniwaspuri and a part of East of Kailash has been added to my seat from the Okhla seat and a bit from Tughlaqabad slums. This is a positive move as these are all traditional Congress voters.”

BJP MLA Vijay Jolly, on the other hand, was probably the only leader with a solid vote base in the area. But his assembly seat, Saket, was dissolved in the delimitation process and he is currently without a turf.

“Jolly is trying to contest from Sangam Vihar as that was an area under Ramesh Bidhuri, his BJP colleague. He sees that seat as a safe bet,” said a BJP leader. Parts of the Saket assembly seat have been added to the Mehrauli, Deoli and Ambedkar Nagar seats.