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Ground Report: Why East Delhi’s Seat May Be Tough For Both AAP And BJP

Atishi and Gautam Gambhir are both Popular faces, but the residents dislike both parties.

Mahesh Girri ne koi kaam nahin kiya tha iss liye to BJP ne ab ke Gambhir ko ticket diya hai (Mahesh Girri hasn’t done a single thing. That’s why the BJP has given Gautam Gambhir a ticket this time),” said Parmahans, a retired MCD employee. He lives in Trilokpuri, which falls in the East Delhi Lok Sabha Constituency.

He added that election promises mostly end up being nothing more than just promises, be it any party. He said, “Kejriwal aur BJP ki ladai me hamara pension tak ruk jaata hai, dono hi bekaar hain (Our pensions stop while Kejriwal and the BJP are fighting. Both are useless).”.

Sixty-six-year-old Ram Kishan of 16 Block in Trilokpur said that the last five years under the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government had seen no development in her area. He spoke about sanitation and how his neighbourhood continues to fill with garbage and sewer water, with no one doing anything to change that. He added that with the way things were, it seemed hard to imagine that Modi would come back to power.

East Delhi
Ram Kishan

His 26-year-old son Akash works as a data entry operator under a contractor. He told NewsCentral24x7, “There are no permanent jobs under the Modi government. It’s just thekedaari.”

He further said, “Modi’s talks of development don’t feed us. He hasn’t created jobs, and educated youths in this neighbourhood are just sitting at home, unemployed,” adding “AAP ko vote dunga ab ke. AAP ne hospital aur school me bahut kaam kiya hai (I’ll vote for AAP this time. They have done a lot for us in healthcare and education).”

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Trilokpuri is a resettlement colony of residents who were rehabilitated here when nearby slums were cleared out in 1975-76. The people here are not happy with Modi at all.

Ram Sharma, who owns a small grocery shop in Geeta Colony feels, “Pradhan Mantri pad ki garima nahin samjhte hain Modi ji, kuch bhi bolte hain (The PM does not understand the dignity of the office. He speaks nonsense).”

East delhi
Ram Sharma

He was referring to the Prime Minister’s remark against former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Addressing a Bharatiya Janata Party Rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh, he had attacked Rahul Gandhi’s father Rajiv Gandhi saying, “Your father was termed ‘Mr Clean’ by his courtiers, but his life ended as Bhrashtachari Number 1.”

According to Ram, the Gandhi-Nehru family has given the country three prime ministers, two of whom were tragically assassinated. “Their contribution to this country is immense, he said, adding, “Modi ji will never understand this.”

He further said, ‘Modi hasn’t done anything so he can’t use that to ask for votes. That’s why he’s hiding behind the army.”

He also said that the Congress was a preferable alternative. “Sheila ji had done a lot of work in the national capital and in my area too when she was the chief minister,” he said. He was also happy that Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely was from “Jamuna paar”.

The East Delhi Constituency has ten assembly seats: Jangpura, Trilokpuri, Kondli, Patparganj, Laxmi Nagar, Vishwas Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Shahdra. Except for Jangpura and Okhla, all the other areas are on the east side of Yamuna, and hence it is often called ‘Jamuna paar‘. The East Delhi Constituency is considered to be the least developed area in the national capital.

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TM Zeyaul Haque, a resident of Shaheen Bagh in Okhla, wasn’t too happy with the AAP either. He told NewsCentral24x7, “The Kejriwal government hasn’t done much. They only made promises,” adding regretfully that he had voted AAP in 2014 and 2015.

In the 2014 General election, the BJP had won all the seven Lok Sabha Constituency seats in Delhi. BJP MP Mahesh Giri had won East Delhi by a Margin of 1.9 lakh votes, with AAP’s Raj Mohan Gandhi finishing second and Congress in the third position. In 2009 and 2004 Congress had bagged all the seven seats in Delhi.

He questioned Manish Sisodia’s education model, saying that despite all the hue and cry over AAP’s education policy, there were no good schools in his area. He said, “Yahan par science school tak nahin hai, ek hain bhi to uss me teachers nahin hain (There aren’t science schools in our area, and even if there is one, it doesn’t have teachers),” adding, “Any and all development this area has seen is thanks to the Congress.”

He further said that the Congress was responsible for the metro line in the area.

Shama Khan, who calls herself a lady builder, said, “AAP has only disappointed us. This is what happens when your whole politics is based on blaming others.”

She said she holds women’s safety as an essential issue, adding that both, the AAP government and the Modi government, had made huge promises about women safety but ultimately failed to deliver.

East Delhi
Shama Khan

She further said, “Colony ko regularise karne ka wada kiya tha, pani ka, school ka. Koi bhi wada poora nahin kiya AAP ki sarkar ne yahan to (They had talked of regularising the colony. They had made promises of water supply and schools. The AAP government has fulfilled none of those promises).

Mala of Kondli said that there are not enough government hospitals in the area, “People are poor and can not afford private hospitals.”

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In the triangular fight for East Delhi, the BJP has field cricketer-turned-politician. The BJP is heavily relying on PM Modi’s popularity and Gambir’s star value. AAP, on the other hand, has put up Atishi, a nationally famous face who has been instrumental in bringing about changes in the education system in Delhi.

Congress has fielded Arvinder Singh Lovely, who has held many portfolios under the Sheila Dikshit-led government and former Gandhi Nagar MLA. He seems to have the backing of the Punjabi community. As Titu Chawal of Laxmi Nagar puts it, “Sab apni apni community ko dekh rahe hain (everyone watches out for their own people).”

As voting continues in the capital today, one will soon find out if that pronouncement holds in Delhi.

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