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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Sohna voters seek educational institutions, healthcare facilities

gurugram Updated: Oct 19, 2019 22:38 IST
Sadia Akhtar
Sadia Akhtar

Located at a distance of 25 kilometres from the city, Sohna is among the four assembly constituencies that fall in the Gurugram district. Skirting the northern foothills of the Aravalli mountain range, the constituency is seen by many as an extension of Gurgaon constituency and has seen rampant construction activity in the past few years. It is a town in making, and as one travels along the Gurgaon-Sohna Road, one can see many upcoming condominiums and private educational institutions dotting both sides of the road. The town’s aspirations, however, are dampened by a lack of basic civic infrastructure, a concern that is expected to be on people’s mind when they cast their votes on October 21.

The constituency will witness a five-way battle among the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Sanjay Singh, Congress’ Shamsuddin, Jannayak Janata Party’s (JJP) Rohtash Khatana, Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD) Rohtash Singh and Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Javed Ahmad. In the 2014 polls, the BJP had emerged as the front-runner from the constituency while the INLD candidate stood second.

Ahead of the polling day, HT visited different parts of the constituency to assess the various issues that concerned residents. At the Sohna bus terminal, people sit huddled together as they wait for the next roadways bus and talk about the poor connectivity in the region. “The service of roadways is very poor. One has to wait for hours to get a bus during the day, while there is hardly any bus after 5pm,” said Hitesh Bhardwaj, 18, who is a first-year BA student at Dronacharya Government College, Gurugram.

Bhardwaj said that the lack of bus service prevented him from attending extra classes in the evening. “There is no bus for us to return from the city in the evening. The only other option is to take shared tempos. We have to change three tempos to reach home,” he said.

Raj Dabas, 32, said that poor connectivity is a major impediment since most students travelled to other districts for college and there is no university in the area. “There is no university in the jurisdiction. There are a few semi-government colleges and most of them are affiliated to MDU. There is no separate college for women either,” said Dabas, adding that the BJP had nothing for the constituency in the past five years.

He plans to vote for the JJP candidate in the fray, and said that both BJP and Congress candidates are “outsiders” who had been parachuted only for the elections. “How can we expect these people to work for us when they don’t even understand the area? JJP candidate Rohtash Khatana is a strong candidate since he is a local,” said Dabas.

His views were echoed by others, who said that most people are not familiar with the BJP and Congress’ candidates. “It is difficult to predict the outcome, but the BJP and Congress are on a weak footing. The BSP’s and JJP’s candidates have contested from here in the past. They have an edge over others,” said 62-year-old Brahm Prakash, while discussing the prospects of the candidates with his friends outside a tea shop in Chungi no-1 area.

He added that BSP candidate could benefit from the Muslim votes in the region, where both Meos and Gujjars are dominant groups. Prakash is yet to decide on his candidate but said that he would vote for development.

Sher Singh, 52, concurred that Sohna had not seen any development. “There is no good college, hospital or industry in the area. Road infrastructure is also poor. We have been seeking the widening of the Sohna-Tauru road but to no avail,” he said. Expansion of the Sohna-Tauru road is a concern shared by many residents. The road sees heavy traffic and frequent collisions take place on the stretch.

Singh said that unemployment is possibly the biggest concern in the region, eliciting an agreement from others who surrounded him. “The BJP says it will be 75 paar. I agree with them. The rates of onion, tomato, petrol, all have touched 75 paar,” he said, while others nodded in agreement.