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Lok Sabha elections 2019: In home turf Chandni Chowk, JP Agarwal raises sealing, hard sells Cong’s 15-year rule in city

Aggarwal represented Chandni Chowk three times and North East Delhi once in Parliament. He lost the last election in 2014 to BJP’s Manoj Tiwari from North East Delhi.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 28, 2019 03:51 IST
Vatsala Shrangi
Vatsala Shrangi
New Delhi
Lok Sabha elections 2019,JP Agarwal,Chandni Chowk
JP Agarwal said he would do everything possible to provide relief to traders, a decisive vote bank in Chandni Chowk, who are bearing the brunt of sealing drive.(Sanjeev Verma/HT)

Jai Prakash Agarwal, a four-time Lok Sabha MP and a veteran Congress leader, has returned to his home turf Chandni Chowk, to contest his ninth Lok Sabha election to take on the Aam Aadmi Party’s Pankaj Gupta and the Bharatiya’s Janata Party’s Harsh Vardhan.

Aggarwal represented Chandni Chowk three times and North East Delhi once in Parliament. He lost the last election in 2014 to BJP’s Manoj Tiwari from North East Delhi.

“But Chandni Chowk is home. I was born in Paranthewali Gali and raised in Naughara haveli. Even my voter ID is still from the Old Delhi address,” says the 74-year-old, the “most experienced Parliamentarian in the fray.”

In an interview to Hindustan Times, Agarwal said he would do everything possible to provide relief to traders (a decisive vote bank in Chandni Chowk) who are bearing the brunt of the Supreme Court-ordered sealing drive.

Excerpts:

Q. How do you feel returning to your home turf after two decades?

A. It feels like a great homecoming. I last fought from Chandni Chowk in 1999. It is overwhelming to see the same kind of excitement among party workers in the area. I feel driven by their energy and enthusiasm as much as by the fact that life has come full circle, as I had fought my first Lok Sabha election from the seat in 1984. My father was a freedom fighter and deputy mayor of Delhi for a long time. My voter identity card still belongs to Chandni Chowk constituency and I retain my old connect with the people.

Q. Post-delimitation, the constituency has changed with many new neighbourhoods added to it. How do you plan to connect with the new segments?

A. Earlier, when I had contested from the seat, it was the smallest constituency area-wise in India with only three to four assembly segments and 4-5 lakh voters. The area is much bigger now and includes most north Delhi neighbourhoods . But all of it is not new to me. I have worked on ground in most other areas as the Delhi Congress chief for six years. Also, people are looking for a change and the Congress is not new to them. Wherever I have been, I could see people are relieved to see us back in the fray.

Q. It is going to be a triangular contest, as the alliance with AAP hasn’t worked out. Political analysts say this will benefit the BJP. How do you think the Congress will keep its key vote banks intact?

A. The Congress has a strong voter base in Delhi, which will translate into votes. People still remember our 15 years of governance. Both the BJP and AAP have not done anything significant for Delhi. The seven BJP MPs kept mum on issues that affected the masses, including sealing, demonetisation and even during the strike by sanitation workers that turned the city into a garbage dump. AAP has been engaging in a blame-game rather than focusing on real issues. They have made ‘full statehood’ their poll plank; however, none of their four MPs in Lok Sabha and three in Rajya Sabha ever raised their voice on the issue. In this scenario, people will reject both the parties.

Q. What will be your major poll plank?

A. I have always raised issues affecting people in Parliament and will continue to do that. I will take up the issue of sealing of commercial establishments, which has affected traders across the city, in Parliament. Besides, joblessness, development in all sectors and the 15-year-rule of the party in Delhi will be the major poll plank.

Q. What are your priorities for the constituency?

A. The area is a huge commercial centre. Providing relief to traders from sealing is first on my agenda.

Redevelopment of infrastructure and addressing issues such as congestion and parking, in particular, in the Walled City will be the first few things I will address once I am back.

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 03:51 IST