Delhi Assembly Election 2020: In Patparganj, two newcomers take on an AAP stalwart
Delhi Assembly Election 2020: Manish Sisodia has won the seat for two consecutive terms in 2013 and 2015 with the contest visibly being a cakewalk — his vote share in the constituency increasing from 41.5% (2013) to 53.5% (2015).Updated: Jan 20, 2020 01:51 IST
The Patparganj assembly remains one of the top showcase seats for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the city, after New Delhi. While the New Delhi seat belongs to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Patparganj one belongs to his deputy Manish Sisodia.
Sisodia has won the seat for two consecutive terms in 2013 and 2015 with the contest visibly being a cakewalk — his vote share in the constituency increasing from 41.5% (2013) to 53.5% (2015).
For the 2020 contest, both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have fielded relatively new faces against Sisodia.
Both Ravi Negi of the BJP and Laxman Rawat of the Congress will be baptised by fire, as they enter the poll arena for the first time, following years of service to their respective parties in ward and district level.
There is another commonality – both Negi and Rawat are migrants from Garhal hills of Uttarakhand.
Demographic estimates shared by the three parties suggest that around 20% of voters in Patparganj are migrants from Uttarakhand. Their vote base comes second after the Purvanchali community (25%). Most of the migrants from Uttarakhand have settled in localities such as West Vinod Nagar, East Vinod Nagar and Chandan Vihar.
In their election campaign, both Rawat and Negi have made their Uttarakhand connect visible. Sisodia, on the other hand, continues highlighting the party’s poll plank— welfare schemes, development issues and governance. “Our only mantra will be positive campaign. We have to assure people that our excellent work in the field of education, welfare schemes and development will become better if we are voted to power again,” said Sisodia.
Rawat’s campaign will broadly focus on two things – “success story” of the Congress under Sheila Dikshit and “failure” of the AAP. He elaborated, “We have to convince the voters that it is the Congress which has shown Delhi the way to development and addressed aspirations of the masses. The AAP has primarily invested more in advertisements than actual work. Otherwise, why do inadequate water supply, bad roads and streets unsafe for women still remain major concerns in the constituency?”
The BJP’s Ravi Negi, on the other hand, said, “Our campaign will focus on door-to-door visits and telling people about the failures of the AAP and how the BJP can help them in achieving real development everywhere –gated societies, slums, unauthorised colonies.”
From 1998 till 2013, the Patparganj seat had been a Congress stronghold. In 2013, AAP’s Sisodia had put a stop to the grand old party’s winning streak in Patparganj. The BJP had last won the seat in 1993.
The wide mix of people waiting for their turn to consult a doctor in one of the Mohalla Clinics – primary health care centres founded by the AAP government – near the West Vinod Nagar metro station in Patparganj reflected the varied demography of the voter base in the constituency. It also reflected on the needs of residents in the area, which often helps determine how people vote. Currently, the constituency has 13 such mohalla clinics.
“Power cuts used to be a major issue in the area and then there was always concerns about women safety. Such concerns, to a large extent, have been allayed after CCTV cameras were installed,” said Alok Kumar, one of the visitors in the clinic.
While Kumar, a retired banker, is resident of one of the 52 gated residential societies in IP Extension, the person sitting next to him, Durga (who uses just one name), saiid she was a resident of a slum in Mandawli. Both localities fall under Patparganj constituency.
Durga said, “Water connection and sewer lines are like a blessing for the slum residents. Till five year ago, we could not imagine getting access to such basic amenities.”
In Patparganj, the biggest water and sewer network project was undertaken by the AAP government in a network of four interconnected slums – Jawahar Mohalla, Allah Colony, Gandhi Camp and Bismil Camp. Together, these slums have more than 25,000 voters, a large number of them Dalits of the Valmiki community and Muslim migrants from Bihar and Western Uttar Pradesh, the political parties estimate. These slums have also witnessed installation of 51 CCTV cameras and eight Wi-Fi hotspots in the last three months.
“Hindus of different castes and Muslims have inhabited these slums for decades now. We have seen brotherhood but we were yet to see development in terms of water, sewer, concrete roads and health care among other things. In the next few years, we look forward to more on the development front – that would be the deciding factor,” said Moin Khan, a resident of Bismil Camp.