Rajouri Garden, a constituency with a little over 1.5 lakh voters, will vote for an MLA in bypolls today. The seat fell vacant earlier this year after AAP MLA Jarnail Singh resigned to contest from the Lambi constituency in Punjab Assembly elections.
There are six candidates in the fray, and AAP has not repeated Jarnail Singh, who lost to SAD’s Parkash Singh Badal in Punjab. The party has, instead, fielded Harjeet Singh, a former corporate executive, who joined AAP in 2013.
The BJP-SAD alliance has fielded former MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa from the constituency. Sirsa will contest on the BJP’s symbol.
The Congress has picked Meenakshi Chandela, who was also the party’s candidate in 2015. Chandela’s father-in-law Dayanand Chandela had previously represented the constituency in the Delhi Assembly in 2008.
Assembly bypolls in Rajouri Garden will be a closely watched affair as its significance goes beyond just one seat.
Traditionally a Congress stronghold, Rajouri Garden saw a BJP-SAD candidate in 2013 and an AAP candidate in 2015.
The importance of winning the seat can be gauged from the long list of campaigners that the area has seen over the past few days. The Congress brought in Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu, while the BJP brought Venkaiah Naidu and Smriti Irani along with Manoj Tiwari. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has also campaigned in the area.
With municipal elections scheduled on April 23, winning the bypolls will provide a confidence boost.
For AAP, winning or losing the seat will not change much in terms of majority in Vidhan Sabha — it won 67 out of 70 seats in 2015. But at a time when some of its MLAs have voiced displeasure with how the party is working — Bawana MLA Ved Prakash joined the BJP recently while Janakpuri MLA Rajesh Rishi said Kejriwal is surrounded by sycophants — retaining the seat will be a big relief.
The government has also been battling allegations of impropriety in appointments ever since the Shunglu committee report came out.
A win for the Congress will help the party get its only MLA into the Assembly.
Residents, meanwhile, said the area deserves more attention than it has been getting.
“The parties have not done any work in the area. The roads and drains are in poor condition. Encroachers behind Pacific Mall have not been removed. Only the affluent areas are looked after,” said Jasmeet Singh, a resident of Khayala which falls under Rajouri Garden.