New Delhi: All the seven parliamentary constituencies of Delhi are going to polls on May 12. Among these, North East Delhi, which was earlier part of the East Delhi constituency, is an important one. It is home to majority of migrant workers from different parts of the country. It is also the most densely populated constituency in the national capital.
The fight to win seems to be a tough one in the ongoing elections. Earlier, it looked as if there would be a direct fight between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), but since Congress has fielded veteran leader and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the contest has become triangular among AAP’s Dilip Pandey, BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and Dikshit.
After the bifurcation of East Delhi in 2008, the newly formed North East constituency was won in 2009 by Congress’s Jai Parkash Aggarwal, and by Tiwari in 2014.
The Constituency and Key Issues
There are 10 Assembly seats under this parliamentary constituency: Seemapuri, Gokalpuri, Ghonda, Seelampur, Rohtash Nagar, Babarpur, Karawal Nagar, Burari, Timarpur, Mustafabad. If we take into account the results of last Assembly elections, only one (Mustafabad) out of these 10 seats went to BJP; the rest were won by AAP. If we base our projections for the ongoing elections on the last Assembly election results, then AAP emerges as a clear winner. But since after the massive victory of BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the political landscape has been undergoing a change in the capital.
These 10 Assembly constituencies used to be Congress strongholds. In 2013, AAP entered electoral politics and drew a significant chunk of non-BJP votes. This benefitted the saffron party in the 2014 general elections. In the Assembly elections of 2013 and 2015, it was Congress’ vote base which shifted to AAP because there was miniscule decrease in BJP’s vote share.
Congress is hopeful that Dikshit will be able to regain the party’s vote base, as before 2013, Congress had had a strong base in the national capital.
The key factors for the political parties in the ongoing elections are migrant population and unauthorised colonies, apart from the caste equations. A large number of migrants from states, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, live in the unorganised colonies in this constituency. Land rights, recognition and development of unauthorised colonies are, therefore, some of the crucial issues here. Residents of these colonies are still being forced to live without basic civic amenities.
Chaos of Sealing drive
The sealing drive in the national capital, too, has severely affceted the people of this constituency – which has a lot of small-scale industies. Businessmen from Seemapuri, Ghonda, Seelampur, Burari and Mustafabad told NewsClick that since the BJP has come to power at the Centre, their businesses have been severely affected. They said that when they were barely recovering from demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, the sealing drive closed down a large number of small factories. This issue can cost BJP in these elections.
Another major problem here is the dismal state of public transportation. Locals in Karawal Nagar say they rarely see any buses in this area. The only mode of public transport available here is shared autorickshaws. Travelling in them is dangerous because they are always overcrowded. There have been many accidents and a few people have even lost their lives.
Voters from Purvanchal
People, who have migrated from Purvanchal (East UP and parts of Bihar) will also play a decisive role in the elections which is why the three major parties are trying to woo them.
All the three key candidates contesting from this parliamentary seat hail from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. AAP’s Dilip Pandey come from Zamania village of Ghazipur, while BJP has given a ticket to Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari, whose birthplace is Banaras. The three-time chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, is also said to be from Kannauj. For this seat, migrant population from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – which forms a large chunk of population here – plays a crucial role.
Experts say that 25%-28% of the people from this constituency hail from East Uttar Pradesh and parts of Bihar, which could be a decisive factor in the elections.
What’s in store for BJP?
In the general elections of 2014, the winning candidate, BJP’s Manoj Tiwari, had got 5,96,125 votes, while AAP’s Anand Kumar came second with 4,52,041 votes. JP Aggrawal of the Congress had to settle for the third place with 2,14,792 votes.
Naresh, a resident of Gokulpuri, said, “This time, people will vote based on whether Manoj Tiwari has or hasn’t done any development work. Not because of his celebrity status.”
He further added, “He didn’t do any work in the area as an MP, and now he is using Modi’s name to get votes. But he is not telling us about the work he has done.”
NewsClick also spoke to some BJP supporters and even they did not seem happy with Tiwari’s performance. One of them said, “Tiwari majboori hai kyunki Modi zaruri hai” (Tiwari is a necessity because we want Modi to win).
Tiwari himself is not focusing on the fact that he hails from the Purvanchal region and is hoping to make electoral gains based on the supposed popularity of Narendra Modi.
On the other side, AAP’s Pandey is a young and new face and has been working in the area for some time now, which could benefit him.