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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: In East Delhi, a cricketer gets a feel of the political pitch with roadshow

“We all are here since 7am. I hope I get his autograph,” said Aalap Jha, a Class 8 student, who had brought a notebook, while his friends brought their cricket bats and balls to get the former cricketer’s autograph.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 28, 2019 03:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Cricketer-turned-politician BJP candidate from East Delhi Loksabha constituency Gautam Gambhir signs his autograph during the road show at New Ashok Nagar to Trilokpuri in New Delhi.
Cricketer-turned-politician BJP candidate from East Delhi Loksabha constituency Gautam Gambhir signs his autograph during the road show at New Ashok Nagar to Trilokpuri in New Delhi.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
         

Wearing saffron caps and scarves, a group of children from East End Apartments, near New Ashok Nagar on the Delhi-Noida border, waited patiently for two-and-a-half-hours for catching a glimpse of their favourite cricketer and BJP’s East Delhi candidate Gautam Gambhir as he held a roadshow in the area on Saturday morning.

“We all are here since 7am. I hope I get his autograph,” said Aalap Jha, a Class 8 student, who had brought a notebook, while his friends brought their cricket bats and balls to get the former cricketer’s autograph.

When asked if they know why he is coming, Aalap said, “Yes, he is contesting the Lok Sabha elections.” Beyond this they didn’t know much .

As they patiently waited under the scorching sun, the discussion steered towards who should be the candidate for the next polls. “Next time, Dhoni or Virat aana chahiye (It should be Dhoni or Virat next time),” said one of them, as the group started discussing who is a better cricketer.

Like these boys, other locals too were excited about Gambhir being one of the main candidates from their constituency. However, they added that candidates didn’t matter this election. “People will vote for the political party not the candidate. We want a party which will address our problems. Delhi has suffered in the last few years due to lack of coordination between the state government and the Centre,” said Prabhakar Mehra, a resident of East End apartments.

Gambhir’s cavalcade — three-four cars and several motorcycles — quickly moved through the middle-class neighbourhood and left for the unplanned Ashok Nagar area, where locals took his autographs and clicked photographs and selfies with him. As it was roadshow, Gambhir didn’t address the crowds.

In Ashok Nagar, people stood in their balconies to see Gambhir. But some residents were upset that the cricketer didn’t interact with the locals. “They just moved around in a car in the colony. People have been waiting for him since morning. He should have at least interacted with us for something. What is this?” Mehra said.

Located on the Delhi-Noida border, the area has a plethora of unaddressed issues ranging from toxic fumes from Shahdara drain to encroachment of roads.

Several BJP supporters were quick to dismiss the question about Gambhir’s inexperience. “He is an honest guy and has represented the country. We are sure that he will address our problem.,” said Parvati Bose, a retired government official.

Amid drumbeats and slogan shouting, the unauthorised colony on Saturday caught a glimpse of the celebrity cricketer, who is still learning about the East Delhi constituency. “He is a good cricketer. We earlier had Maheish Girri, who was also new to the constituency. He, too, will learn if he wins,” said Deepak Aggarwal, who claims to be a BJP supporter.

Kishore, a trader, said that the ongoing tussle between the state government and the Centre has stalled development work in the area.“East Delhi benefitted when Congress was in power at the state and the Centre. In the past few years, the area has not seen any development due to tussle between the two governments.”

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 03:24 IST

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