With the national capital scheduled for the polling on 12 May in the sixth phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, battle lines have been drawn for a three-cornered contest between the BJP candidate Hans Raj Hans, the Congress nominee Rajesh Lilothia and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Guggan Singh in the North-west Delhi constituency.
This Scheduled Caste reserved parliamentary constituency comprises of areas like Narela, Badli, Rithala, Bawana, Mundka, Kirari, Sultan Pur Majra, Nangloi Jat, Mangol Puri and Rohini. A significant rural belt runs through it.
The constituency has been lagging behind other parts of Delhi on the score of development and infrastructure. Its residents have continued to face problems related to sanitation, women safety, unemployment, and law and order. It accounts for 2,194,425 voters.
In the 2014 general election, the then BJP candidate Udit Raj ~ who has now joined the Congress after being denied ticket for this election ~ had won from here by defeating the AAP’s Rakhi Bidlan by about 1,06802 votes.
Going by the views expressed by a slew of local residents while speaking to The Statesman, it was evident that the contest has boiled down here between the BJP and the AAP, with the BJP candidate appearing to be ahead in the race.
An e-rickshaw driver from Rohini, Amod Sirahi, said he was a “little confused” and that he would have voted for the AAP if it were assembly election. “But since Modi government has led the country well and the elections are about selection of Prime Minister, I think Modi could emerge as an option,” he said.
Another resident of Rohini, Malti Sharma, a local AAP dissident leader, said, “Despite the AAP’s tall claims of doing a lot on education and other things, no groundwork has been done. Whether it is BJP, Congress or AAP, no party has done credible groundwork. There is no triangular fight here. Congress has also always made claims about eradicating corruption from the country but has never done it. I don’t see AAP as a party who can handle national matters. So, in the end, we are left with only one option ~ BJP.”
However, Ashish, a 32-year-old resident of Badli, was all praise for the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi. “AAP has done very good work with education and Mohalla Clinics. For Delhi, AAP is a very good choice, as it has worked accordingly and proved it. The education provided in government schools is no less than private institutes, all facilities are provided,” he said.
An auto driver Teer Jha, a resident of Narela, has been in favour of giving a mandate to the Modi government again. “I am from Bihar and have been residing in Delhi for 27 years. When demonetisation happened, we faced problems for 3-4 months as we were unable to earn the money that we used to earn but eventually that also normalised. I will vote for BJP because in these five years they have done good work for the country, and if elected then they might bring more changes in coming five years in the country,” Jha said.
A Rohini shopkeeper Kapil Rana also said there was no option other than supporting the BJP again. “Congress does not have a strong leader. They have not declared the Prime Minister’s face. So, we have to choose the BJP even though we are frustrated due to the BJP’s policies of GST and demonetisation. But what could be done except choosing Modi?” he asked.
Complaining about infrastructure problems in the area, Sushma, a 39-year-old resident of Badli, said, “We have been living here for 7 years and the condition is getting worse each day. Sanitation and hygiene are not maintained at all. Another problem that women face here is about their safety. We have to think twice thrice before stepping out of the house after 7.30 pm. We have to ensure that our daughters return home before that time. The government has not ensured any safety measures for them. Whichever party wins should make sure that women safety is ensured in rural areas as well.”
The Statesman also spoke to the three major candidates in the constituency.
Lilothia said the people of Delhi have been “betrayed” by both the BJP and the AAP and that they were now looking forward to having a Congress government at the Centre.
He claimed both the Modi government at the Centre as well as the Kejriwal government in the state have not done any development work in the last five years.
“Both the BJP and the AAP lied to Delhi’ites and made various excuses for their nonperformance,” he charged, pledging development in the constituency if elected.
Guggan Singh said the fight was between the BJP and the AAP, claiming that the Congress was not in the race. He has also promised development and major works on higher education and health care for the local residents.
Hans is a Punjabi Sufi singer turned-BJP candidate. He said people considered him as “someone who is their own and who could connect to them in a different way”.
“My major focus is to bring development in the area and eliminate corruption. I have made a promise to show development in 100 days after being elected. Sanitation of the area is another issue which I will focus on,” Hans said, adding “I am looking forward to work on the problems of the constituency even as the women safety issue is my priority”.