It is home to the new kid on the block in Indian politics — the Aam Aadmi Party, is represented in the Lok Sabha by the BJP president himself, and was rated second in the list of world’s fastest growing cities in terms of urbanisation by a global think tank in 2011. Yet, Ghaziabad continues to struggle with problems such as irregular power and water supply and a high crime rate.
The battle to woo the over 22 lakh voters in this constituency is expected to be one of the most keenly contested ones in the coming general elections. Several heavyweights, including BJP chief Rajnath Singh, Congress’ Raj Babbar and AAP’s Manish Sisodia may clash in a star-studded fight from here.
Though AAP made its debut in the Delhi Assembly elections, Ghaziabad has remained the nerve centre of its activities. Several of the key decisions in the run-up to the polls were taken at party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal’s house in Kaushambi.
The party would like to build on the support it has garnered here and may make a dent in the votebanks of the major players since the seven lakh urban voters in the Sahibabad assembly segment comprising Kaushambi, Vaishali, Vasundhara and Indirapuram will play a crucial role in the outcome of the election.
One of the oldest industrial townships in Uttar Pradesh, Ghaziabad has a significant population of Thakurs, Vaishya and Brahmins, who have traditionally voted for the BJP. The party won the seat in 1998, 1999, and wrested it from the Congress in 2009.
The Congress is expected to nominate actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, MP from Firozabad. Babbar was a senior Samajwadi Party leader and the party MP from Agra. The ruling SP has declared Sudan Rawat as its candidate. But he would find it difficult to explain poor development in the district as well as getting the support of the Muslims in the wake of riots in Muzaffarnagar.
“The law and order situation is so bad that we never feel safe here. Governments have come and gone. Politicians have promised us heaven, but during the polls they blame the lack of coordination between Centre, the state and local administration for poor development. The sitting MP (Rajnath) is no different,” said Ajeet Thakur, a Vaishali resident.
Rajesh Jha, an engineer, agreed. “Whenever we have shared a problem, the MP has expressed his helplessness, saying his party was neither in power at the Centre nor in the state.”
The BSP, which holds four assembly constituencies of the five that are part of the Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat, is banking on the Dalit and Muslim votes.
Farmers, another significant part of the voter mix, expressed their disappointment with both the SP government in state and the UPA regime at the Centre. “Unlike previous elections, farmers have united against the Congress and SP on their agriculture policy. This will reflect in the result of all the seats in western UP,” said Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary, president, Bharatiya Krishak Samaj.
Young professionals who work in Delhi but on account of cheaper accommodation stay here complain of poor connectivity. None of the parties have been able to address the issue of traffic chaos on NH24, a vital link between Ghaziabad and Delhi.
Challengers and ticket hopefuls
Mukul Upadhyay, BSP (Confirmed)
Brother of former BSP minister and BSP MLA Ramvir Upadhyay, Mukul is presently an MLC in UP assembly. By fielding him as a candidate, BSP is trying to get support from both Brahmins and its traditional Dalit votebank.
Sudan Rawat, SP (Confirmed)
Despite the fact that Rawat had lost the election of Mayor from Ghaziabad in July 2012 and earlier in MLC polls as an Independent, the ruling Samajwadi Party has shown faith in him. Rawat is a businessman and deals in real estate.
Rajnath Singh, BJP (Probables)
Rajnath Singh is the sitting MP from Ghaziabad and is the BJP president. His son Neeraj Singh works in the constituency on behalf of his father. The BJP has scotched speculation in the media that the party may not field him.
Raj Babbar, Cong (Probables)
Babbar, an actor-turned-politician, is an MP from Firozabad and a Congress spokesperson. Before joining Congress, Babbar was Samajwadi Party MP from Agra. Local workers are opposing his candidature from Ghaziabad constituency.