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Lok Sabha elections 2019: In East Delhi, parties offer development 2.0

As the city gears up for the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for May 12, Nagar’s complaint is reflective of the changing development needs of East Delhi parliamentary constituency.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 29, 2019 13:47 IST
Risha Chitlangia
Risha Chitlangia
Hindustan Times, NEW DELHI
BJP,Lok Sabha,elections 2019
The Akshardham Metro station is just a few metres away.(HT Photo)

“Parking is the biggest problem here,” says Atar Singh Nagar, RWA president of Ganesh Nagar Pandav Nagar Complex—an unauthorised colony awaiting regularisation—in East Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar.

The colony, despite its unauthorised nature has all the basic civic facilities of a planned area in Delhi. That may have something to do with its location — opposite the high-profile residential neighbourhood Commonwealth Games Village sports complex, which was developed to provide accommodation and training facilities to athletes during the 2010 Games.

The Akshardham Metro station is just a few metres away.

As the city gears up for the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for May 12, Nagar’s complaint is reflective of the changing development needs of East Delhi parliamentary constituency.

In Ganesh Nagar Pandav Nagar Complex, for example, development around it has led to a real estate boom in the colony over the years with rental rates as high as ₹18,000 to ₹20,000 for a two-bedroom house.

“Rent is one of the major sources of income for property owners here. But increasing number of tenants has resulted in a major parking problem in the area,” said Mukesh Gupta, a property dealer.

From water and sewerage (continue to be a pressing concern in several parts of the constituency), which used to be the key poll issues a decade back, the discourse has moved to parking, better sanitation service, permission to redevelop, ownership rights over properties, better education and health facilities, among others.

Also Read | Lok Sabha 2019 constituency: East Delhi seat is one of the largest in Delhi

THE VOTERS

After New Delhi, East Delhi is the most urbanised parliamentary constituency in Delhi with 99.79%, as per Census 2011.

The seat has roughly 16% Muslim population located largely in Okhla, Jangpura, Trilokpuri, Madanpur Khadar, Ghondli and Shahdara assembly constituencies.

After their failed attempt at forging an alliance, both the AAP and Congress are trying hard to win the support of the Muslim community. But in a triangular contest, the vote is likely to split between AAP and Congress, in which case it would be an advantage for the BJP.

THE AREA

Spread over 70 sq.km, there are middle class settlements like the housing societies of IP Extension; the Mayur Vihar areas that are dominated by retired government servants, working class professionals, upper middle class and the business community areas such as Preet Vihar, Gagan Vihar, Nirman Vihar, Krishna Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, which are located along Vikas Marg.

Villages such as Chilla (one of the few urbanised villages in the constituency), Ghondli,Khichripur, Dallupura are today home to a large migrant population from neighbouring states.

Also are a large number of unauthorised colonies — nearly 150 of the 1,797 in the capital. As per the Census 2011, nearly 29% of people live in rented accommodation in East Delhi.

The slum clusters are located in Shahdara, Okhla, Seelampur, Jangpura, Trilokpuri among other assembly constituencies.

THE POLITICS

The Congress, which ruled the city for 15 consecutive years, is pitching hard to stage a comeback in Delhi’s political scenario, especially in East Delhi. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), too, are pitching development (beyond sewer and water) to garner the support of the urban voters in the seat.

In his campaigns, Congress’s candidate Arvinder Singh Lovely, a three-time MLA and a former minister in the Sheila Dikshit’s government, reminds people that the Congress government “transformed” East Delhi.

“We constructed flyovers, provided Metro connectivity, established the trans-Yamuna development board to provide basic infrastructure among other things to provide the best infrastructure to trans-Yamuna residents,” Lovely said. Then, targeting the AAP’s main poll plank, he added, “We did all this without Delhi being a full state.”

While the BJP and the Congress dismiss AAP as an “insignificant” participant in the general elections, as it is contesting on just 34 seats (so far) in the country, the latter is poised to give a tough fight.

While Atishi and Lovely are known political figures, the BJP has fielded former cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who joined the party only this year, at the cost of its incumbent MP Maheish Girri.

What could swing the votes in favour of the BJP is the failure of the Congress and AAP to find common ground.

In 2017 municipal elections, the BJP won 29 out of 39 wards in East Delhi parliamentary constituency with a vote share of 38% (approximately) while AAP and Congress won six and three wards respectively with almost equal vote share of 22-24%. The split in votes had helped the BJP win Muslim-dominated wards like Madanpur Khadar and Trilokpuri.

ON THE GROUND

Its work in the education and health sector finds resonance among residents of slums, unauthorised and resettlement colonies in areas such as Trilokpuri, Shahdara, Kalyanpuri, Jhilmil, Madanpur Khadar (in South Delhi)—once a key vote bank of the Congress. These areas comprise more than half the electorate in the constituency.

While demand for regular piped water supply continues, education and health have emerged as top priorities for residents of Trilokpuri, a resettlement colony, which has sizeable migrant population, apart from Muslims.

Shahnawaz, a resident of block 27 of Trilokpuri, said, “The colony largely had migrant labourers who have come to Delhi for a better life and want to give their kids good education. The mohalla clinics come as a huge boost for the poor people.”

“I have studied in government school. But the standard of education in government schools today is at par with any private school,” said Ranvir Singh, a resident of block 20 in Trilokpuri, whose daughter studies in the Delhi government school in the area.

Atishi, AAP’s candidate from East Delhi who has been campaigning since last year, is credited for her role school education reforms in Delhi government schools. “There is a need for more educational institutions, especially colleges, hospitals in the constituency, but it can’t be done as Delhi is not a full state,” said Atishi. “The DDA is yet to handover the land for a super-speciality hospital in Geeta colony. Likewise, there are many issues which we can’t resolve if Delhi doesn’t get full statehood.”

The BJP is pitching the work done by the BJP-led central government, including the ₹50,000-crore projects approved for Delhi, to garner the support of voters in middle class neighbourhoods such as IP Extension, Mayur Vihar, Patparganj, Krishna Nagar, Jungpura. After its defeat in 2015 assembly elections when it won just three seats here, the BJP won a majority of the wards in the East Delhi parliamentary constituency during the municipal polls in 2017.

In areas like IP Extension, which were developed in the early 80s, residents now demand provision for redevelopment.

Madan Khatri, general secretary of Indraprastha Vistar Sahakari Awas Society Mahasangh, an association of 119 cooperative group housing societies in IP Extension, said, “These societies were developed 40 years back as per the 1962 Master Plan of Delhi. There is major parking problem in the area. There is a need to redevelop these societies but we are not allowed to do so despite provision in the Master Plan of Delhi-2021. This time we will vote for a party which will help us in redeveloping the area.”

The BJP is banking on Modi’s image of a “strong and decisive leader” to reach out to all communities. .

“We will make East Delhi the best constituency in the city,” said Gambhir. “We want people to vote for the BJP which has done major work under the leadership of our PM. The country is standing at a crossroads where you need a strong leadership. And the PM (Narendra Modi) has given us strong leadership. The response of the previous government after 26/11 and the present government after Uri attack and then the Balakot airstrike (is a case in point).”

The widening of the National Highway 24 (Delhi-Meerut expressway), completion of Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways, development of National Highway -709 B (starting from Akshardham to Saharanpur) are some of the key infrastructure projects BJP leaders are talking about in the constituency. And the Congress is projecting infrastructure project developed during its tenure to woo the public. Both the parties are targeting the AAP government for carrying out no major road and transport development projects.

After the construction of Barapullah Phase-I—which was constructed during the Commonwealth Games in 2010 to provide ease of movement to athletes and officials from the Commonwealth Games Village in east Delhi to the Jawahar Lal Nehru (JLN) stadium—the next big mobility project to come up in the constituency was Delhi Metro’s pink line between Lajpat Nagar and Mayur Vihar pocket-1. The line was made operation in January this year. Barapullah Phase-III, which was to be completed by December 2017, is stuck due to delay in land acquisition by the Delhi government.

“AAP have stalled all development projects started by the Congress. The trans-Yamuna development board is defunct,” said Lovely.

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 13:37 IST

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