Battle of locals in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk — interview with JP Aggarwal | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

Battle of locals in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk — interview with JP Aggarwal

Apr 20, 2024 05:46 AM IST

Former MP Jai Prakash Aggarwal of Congress hopes to change Delhi's electoral tide by addressing price rise, unemployment, and BJP policies in Chandni Chowk.

Jai Prakash Aggarwal, former MP and Congress candidate from Chandni Chowk, spoke to Saubhadra Chatterji and Snehil Sinha about his party’s prospects in the elections and his plan for his constituency. Edited excerpts:

Jai Prakash Aggarwal (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
Jai Prakash Aggarwal (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won all seven Delhi seats. What gives you hope that you will change the tide? Every election is different. No two elections are the same. There have been occasions in Delhi when the Congress won all the seats and the BJP or Jana Sangh scored nil. In this election, the biggest resentment is against the policies of the BJP government. The price-rise situation has jeopardised the budget of every family. Unemployment is so high that young people coming out of college are not getting jobs. The central government is reducing employment opportunities. There used to be small industries where young people would get jobs, but if you go to Noida or Gurugram, many of those industrial units are closed. People are in distress.

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In all the assembly segments in your seat, you have AAP MLAs and AAP councillors in the wards. Will these MLAs and councillors garner support for the Congress?You will see good coordination between the Congress and the AAP at the ground level. But you must give me time. The Congress has announced the Delhi candidates just a few days ago. They (AAP) have their own system. Coordination committees are being formed from the top to lowest level. We are not strangers to each other. We meet them regularly on different programmes. We have very good relationship between us. We are not enemies.

You won the Chandni Chowk seat three times -- 1984, 1989 and 1996. After delimitation, the Chandni Chowk of 2009 has changed. It now appears to be a seat dominated by the BJP. How will you overcome it? Even after the delimitation altered the Chandni Chowk, Kapil Sibal (then a Congress leader) won the seat in 2009. I contested from Chandni Chowk in 2019. I know the constituency. I was born in Delhi. I am not new in Delhi. I have been the DPCC president for seven years. I know every corner of Delhi.

The AAP has changed its election campaign to highlight Kejriwal’s arrest. Is that going to be your pitch too or do you have an independent plan? What are the issues of Chandni Chowk that you will address? I’m not mute. I have raised questions in Parliament before and I will continue to do so. I was born and raised in Chandni Chowk and know the issues of this area at the back of my hand. This is my 19th election from the same address in Chandni Chowk’s Paranthewali Gali. The Chandni Chowk assembly area is a wholesale market with issues of traders going up to Shahjahanabad. Further, Model Town has plotted and multi-storeyed buildings with more civic issues to worry about. Wazirabad and around has industries and JJ clusters, which have their own concerns. Every area in this constituency has varied localised problems that I will address. Additionally, the Old Delhi area has also started getting many tourists now. We will ensure that they get a safe environment and are not harassed.

Your opponent Praveen Khandelwal is very active in the interest of traders. He has been trying to protect the traders’ interests against online retail giants such as Amazon or Walmart. The BJP has never done anything for the traders. I know the reality on ground, which is that the traders are troubled. They are concerned about GST, they are harassed, and asked for money. ED raids are conducted and the traders are threatened with jail time. Chandni Chowk is one of the largest wholesale markets and is full of traders, but the traders continue to suffer.

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