In last year’s Assembly elections, it was in New Delhi that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal had dealt a body blow to the ruling Congress.
Repeating the proverbial David slaying Goliath story, the underdog Kejriwal defeated three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit by a margin of over 25,000 votes and paved the way for his party’s spectacular debut in Delhi.
The New Delhi parliamentary constituency rewrote the rules of the power game in Delhi, breaking the stranglehold of the two national parties -- BJP and Congress, turning the contest for Delhi triangular.
This constituency has been represented and contested for by some of the top names in Indian politics, including BJP veteran LK Advani, Congress’ actor-turned-politician Rajesh Khanna, and the Delhi BJP giant Jagmohan.
It consists of areas that represent a cross section of Delhi’s population. From the old Punjabi refugees to government servants and the elite and super rich.
Karol Bagh, Rajinder Nagar, Malviya Nagar, Patel Nagar, RK Puram, Moti Nagar and Greater Kailash, among others are part of the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat.
If the last assembly election results are anything to go by, the AAP is expected to do very well. The fledgling party won seven of the 10 assembly seats that fall under the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat. While the BJP won the remaining three, the ruling Congress had drawn a blank -much to the worry of the sitting Congress MP and Union minister Ajay Maken.
In 2009, at the height of Congress’ hold on Delhi, Maken defeated the BJP’s Vijay Goel by a massive margin of over one lakh votes. Maken, a Congress spokesperson, is all set to be his party’s choice once again as he was the only leader who filed his nomination under the newly introduced primaries system.
The AAP strictly refused to divulge any names that were under consideration for the seat. As far as the BJP is concerned, the names of Subramanian Swamy and Vijay Jolly were doing the rounds.
Even as the AAP has completely written off the challenge by the Congress and made light of the one posed by the BJP, the national parties does not seem to be rattled by the AAP’s popularity.
“Their popularity has definitely been affected. It is not only about this parliamentary constituency but we are going to win all seven. For us, the Congress and AAP both are our main opponents,” said Prabhat Jhat, Delhi in-charge of the BJP.
The Congress leaders pointed out that in Lok Sabha elections, people voted for the candidate rather than party.
But the AAP seemed confident that quitting the government in Delhi over Jan Lokpal would help them. “The recent assembly elections have been a lesson for these political parties as even the Congress stalwarts lost,” said Dilip Pandey, Delhi secretary, AAP.
While some parts of the constituency, especially south Delhi, is plagued by traffic congestion and shortage of parking space, the government employees are more concerned with their paypackages (dearness allowance, etc).
“He (Maken) isn’t approachable and has never held any meetings with us. No work has been done by him in our area,” said DM Narang, general secretary of New Rajinder Nagar RWA.