The AAP won the Krishna Nagar assembly seat by a small margin of 2,277 votes but the reasons for the voters’ new choice are as diverse as the constituency itself.
Since Kiran Bedi’s candidature was announced from the BJP bastion in East Delhi on January 19, the party’s chief ministerial candidate visited various parts of Krishna Nagar, identifying its problem areas. Her attempt at being a “gardener” in a constituency nurtured by Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan was, however, overrun by a fellow election debutant, AAP’s “foot soldier” S K Bagga.
The AAP, however, also gained from voters who digressed from the Congress. While many bought the AAP’s promises of cheaper electricity and water, some felt that party chief Arvind Kejriwal deserved another shot at power. Bedi could not conquer some hearts that Vardhan had won while others felt that Kejriwal’s politics was a breath of fresh air.
In the Lal Quarter market, Paramjeet Singh, who owns a shop selling Punjabi slippers, had always voted for the BJP before February 7. “The AAP spoke about reducing our water and electricity bills and controlling inflation. What does a common man want to hear? But the BJP spoke of no issues at all,” he said. He, however, softened when he said that had Vardhan contested Delhi’s assembly election, his vote would remain with the BJP. “If you don’t like the candidate why will you vote for her?” Singh asked.
First-time voter Tarun Kumar, 19, also picked the AAP. He said AAP volunteers would come to their door to explain the party’s plan for Delhi.
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“Other party workers also came but not as often. The crowd that participated in their rallies was always well-behaved and seemed educated, not rowdy like those in other party rallies. All my friends also voted for AAP.”
In Muslim-dominated Khureji, Imran Khan, 22, runs a garment shop. He said the traditional choice of the Hindus in the locality was BJP and that of the Muslims was Congress. “A Muslim would never vote for the BJP. We have no expectations from that party. But in the last eight years, the Congress had done no work to improve the conditions here.”
In the Poorvanchali-dominated jhuggi-jhopri cluster of Safeda Basti, where the BJP flew in its ally Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan to address a public meeting before elections, Asha Devi said, “If the AAP is promising to make electricity cheaper we will obviously vote for them.”
“I too come from Bihar but I would not have voted for the BJP only because Paswan is saying I should. I don’t like Paswan. He only works for his own caste,” said Suresh Kumar, 42, a tea vendor. “In the Lok Sabha elections, I voted for the BJP but for Delhi there is no better chief minister than Arvind Kejriwal,” he said.