The Janakpuri constituency in southwest Delhi is like a tale of two cities.
The either sides of Pankha Road, which divides the constituency in almost equal halves, are almost two different worlds of splendour and squalor.
The northeast side comprise areas such as Janakpuri and Hari Nagar, meticulously planned residential colonies with beautiful parks, wide roads and all civic amenities. This part of the constituency, which came up in the 1970s, has both plotted areas with mansions and flats built by the Delhi Development Authority. It is perhaps one of the quietest areas of Delhi where one can still hear birds chirping in the numerous parks.
The scene changes drastically as you cross Pankha Road and move into the other side. While luxury cars zip past on the largely pothole free roads of Janakpuri, even bikes need to be manoeuvered expertly through the narrow lanes on the other side.
This part of the constituency comprise areas such as Uttam Nagar, Mahavir Enclave, Chanakya Place, Panchshil Colony, Milap Nagar and Indira Park, many of which are unauthorised colonies awaiting regularisation. The only planning that seems to have gone behind the ‘development’ of this urban sprawl is in naming these areas evocatively.
“We don’t have water and power shortage in the area but the roads have not been repaired or cleaned for years. This leads to daily traffic jams in the narrow and dirty lanes,” said Bhagwan Dass, a priest at a temple in Uttam Nagar. “All the development is meant for people living there,” he points wistfully to the other side of the arterial road.
While the narrow and muck laden roads in these parts perturb the residents, many locals in Janakpuri feel that their area is too calm and not ‘happening’ enough, a la south Delhi.
“We have no problem of water, power or roads but there is no social life here. There are not too many places to go to, apart from the parks that we have,” said Hardev Singh, a businessman and Janakpuri resident.
Inflation, however, is an issue that bothers residents of Janakpuri. “Price rise would be on our mind when we go out to vote. No matter what your income is, inflation affects everyone’s budget,” said Renu Sharma, another Janakpuri resident.
No matter what the issues are for voters of different areas of the constituency, everybody feels satisfied with the work MLA Jagdish Mukhi has done for the area.
The Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart, a household name, has been representing the area for nearly 34 years. He won the last four Delhi Assembly elections from this area and represented it in the Delhi Metropolitan Council before that.
“Our area was included in the Janakpuri constituency during the last elections but the improvement in the last five years is visible,” said Debasish Bhattacharyya, a Mahavir Enclave resident. “Jagdish Mukhi is very cooperative and always visits the area whenever we call him to solve our problems.”