On Monday, the SDM office in Saket was buzzing with people — including children and the elderly — holding placards to support the candidates of their choice. While candidates belonging to the Congress, BSP, Swaraj India and JD(U) thronged the office in the morning, BJP and AAP candidates arrived in the second half — in open jeeps, flashing party flags and banners. However, it was the supporters who ruled the roost. One such supporter was Mohammed Hasrul (30), who was dressed in clothes made out of the green JD(U) flag. He also had a huge photo of Nitish Kumar and a crown made of cards bearing the name of the candidate he was supporting.
“First, the BJP made a fool of us. Now, AAP has joined them. Only JD(U) can save us. They’ve banned alcohol in Bihar and we need that in Delhi too. Krishna Kumar Singh, the candidate I am supporting, lives in the ward he is contesting from (Sangam Vihar) unlike others who stay elsewhere and are disconnected from people’s problems,” he said. Hasrul, who calls himself a “chaiwallah like Modi”, has a tea stall in Sangam Vihar. He sells tea named after the PM, the CM and his favourite, Nitish Kumar.
“The Modi chai is the most expensive one and is for Rs 10. The Kejriwal chai is for Rs 6 and the Nitish chai is for Rs 5. The prices are based on the amount of milk I put, material of the glass it is served in and for the class of people these netas cater to,” he said. Also lending support to their candidates were a group of BSP supporters. Sarita Bairwa, who filed her nomination from Madangir, is a sitting councillor and supposedly the first Dalit woman to win from a general ward in south Delhi.
“We are confident she’ll win this time as well. She has done a lot of work in her area in terms of road repair and sanitation,” Manish Bairwa, her brother, said. Meanwhile, a sizeable crowd, dressed in bright yellow, vouched for newbie Swaraj India as well. Anupriya, a student of Class X, was among those who had come to support Pankaj Kumar Chaudhary, the Swaraj India candidate from Sangam Vihar. “Chaudhary ji is a social activist and does a lot for us. If he wins, he will do much more,” she said.
However, the presence of youth wasn’t just limited to supporters. Prince Dhingan (25), an IGNOU MA (Political Science) student, filed his nomination as the Shiv Sena candidate from Madangir. “Whether it’s dealing with open manholes, shortage of water or electricity, civic issues are on top of my list. I think it’s time the youth stepped up,” he said.
Meanwhile, frail-looking Ramesh Sharma (90) sat in a car for hours as his son, Rahul Sharma from the Congress, went in to file his nomination. Former MLA from Malviya Nagar Kiran Walia was there to support three Congress candidates too. “We’re banking on the good work we have done and the clean image of our candidates,” she said. In stark contrast was the SDM office at Mehrauli, which wore a completely deserted look. The few who had come in support of candidates also refused to divulge their loyalties. “We just want someone who can address our issues of sanitation and water, which both AAP and the BJP have failed to do,” Sunita, a resident of Masjid Moth, said.