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Delhi: Purvanchalis, Muslims hold sway over backward northeast

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 07, 2014
First Published: 01:04 IST(7/3/2014) | Last Updated: 11:26 IST(7/3/2014)

As a constituency, Northeast Delhi is a colourful mix of Purvanchalis, Muslims and backward classes.

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Across Delhi, it is known to be one of the least developed parts of the Capital.

But despite the slow pace of work, the seat remains a Congress stronghold. Sample this: The party not only won the 2004 and 2009 parliament elections by a huge margin, it performed better than the BJP in 2007 and 2012 municipal elections and 2003 and 2008 assembly elections in Northeast Delhi.

Its performance in 2013 assembly elections can’t be termed dismal considering the drubbing it received. The party not only won two seats, Mustafabad and Seelampur by good margins, its candidates were close second on two more seats — Babarpur and Semapuri.

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“The Muslims of Delhi are still with the Congress. The other sections of the society too have started realising that they had made a mistake by voting for the new party and have started coming back to the Congress. The result of northeast Delhi in these elections may actually surprise you,” asserted Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh.

The entire Jamnapaar was earlier a part of East Delhi constituency before the 2008 delimitation exercise. Today, the constituency has five assembly seats where the Muslim population is more than 20% and its voting trend may actually prove decisive. The constituency also has a number of unauthorised colonies which were regularised by the Congress government just before the elections.

While the residents of unauthorised colonies did not vote for the Congress in 2013 assembly elections, the party feels the situation may change this time. “There is going to be anti-incumbency factor against the AAP MLAs. There has been no development in unauthorised colonies in the past six months,” Singh added.

However, for the Aam Aadmi Party, Northeast Delhi is its own turf. The decision to launch AAP was taken in Sunder Nagari — a part of Seemapuri — where Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO Parivartan worked.

While party’s candidate Anand Kumar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, a party leader said the party enjoys a huge support among the poor and deprived.

The constituency also has a huge Purvanchali vote bank, which the BJP is looking to cash in. The party is likely to field veteran Purvanchali leader Lal Bihari Tiwari. Tiwari has won three Lok Sabha elections from northeast Delhi and is gearing up to repeat the magic.

“There are more than 50% Purvanchali votes in northeast Delhi. I have done a lot of work here. I am sure the voters will repose their faith in me,” said Tiwari.

“BJP has a huge vote bank in areas such as Shahdara, Rohtash Nagar, Ghonda and Karawal Nagar. We are sure to wrest this seat,” another BJP leader added.

Lack of development is a big issue in Northeast Delhi. While the Metro spread a huge network in east, south and west Delhi, northeast Delhi’s wait for better connectivity has only got longer.

South and west Delhi talked about round-the clock power supply, a village in this part of the Capital could get regular electricity connection only two years ago.

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