Named ‘Jamnapaar’ (trans-Yamuna), East Delhi had been synonymous with resettlement colonies and poor infrastructure. In the past decade, especially in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, it picked up unprecedented pace with several malls, underpasses, flyovers and world-class sports complexes.
In fact, East Delhi was the first region to have a Metro link between Shahdara and Tees Hazari.
Also, a young Arvind Kejriwal along with his close confidante Manish Sisodia had started their campaign for change by launching an NGO, Parivartan, from Sundar Nagri -- part of the East Delhi constituency untill delimitation in 2008.
Traditionally, both the Congress and BJP have represented this constituency. But in the 2013 Assembly elections, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) altered the political equations. The party won five of the 10 assembly seats in East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency.
While the debutant party got more seats than Congress and the BJP, it had the least vote share. The BJP got almost 33% votes, 29.7% people voted in favour of the Congress and the AAP got 28.5% votes.
Both the Congress and the BJP leaders claim a committed vote bank in this area. While the constituency has a strong Punjabi and Vaish belt and the middle class, the traditional supporters of the saffron party, Muslims and backward classes have supported the Congress. East Delhi was probably the only seat in Delhi where the victory of the Congress candidate was almost certain as soon as his name was announced in 2004 and 2009 LS polls.
Sandeep Dikshit, son of former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, cashed in on infrastructure development in East Delhi during the Congress’ rule in Delhi.
Two ministers in Sheila’s cabinet — Laxmi Nagar MLA AK Walia and Gandhi Nagar MLA Arvinder Singh, deputy speaker and Kondli MLA Amrish Gautam and parliamentary secretary and Vishwas Nagar MLA Naseeb Singh ensured that Sandeep sailed through the electoral battle without any hiccups.
After the recent assembly elections, the Congress is left with just two MLAs in east Delhi. When asked if he would face anti-incumbency, Dikshit said: “I have done a lot of work in my area. If people consider the work done, then I should do well. If they have some other considerations in mind, I can’t say.”
Even though AAP defeated Congress heavyweights in its strongholds of Laxmi Nagar, Jangpura and Kondli, party’s candidate Rajmohan Gandhi will have to deal with the tag of the outsider. A former Rajya Sabha member and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajmohan joined the AAP only a few days ago and is the party’s official candidate from East Delhi.
The absence of Laxmi Nagar MLA Vinod Kumar Binny may also hurt the party. The AAP had expelled Binny for alleged anti-party activities. Binny not only Congress heavyweight AK Walia but played a big role in Khichdipur — a part of Kondli assembly seat — from where he was elected as municipal councillor in 2007 and 2012.
The BJP, which had won Krishna Nagar, Vishwas Nagar and Shahdara seats in the assembly polls, is heavily banking on ‘Modi magic’. “We lost only 2% vote share than 2012 municipal polls. We only have to get it back,” said Veerendra Sachdeva, an aspirant for BJP ticket.