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Promising flats to slum-dwellers

The Congress leader is targeting different sections over different issues.

New Delhi | Updated: March 31, 2014 2:36 am
Ajay Maken in Prahladpur. (Praveen Khanna) Ajay Maken in Prahladpur. (Praveen Khanna)

Nestled in the middle of the embassy area in posh Chanakyapuri, it’s easy to miss Sanjay Camp. The road leading to the camp is strewn with garbage with ice-cream carts parked on both sides. On Wednesday morning, as a convoy of cars tries to make its way inside Sanjay Camp, people in the colony know Ajay Maken, the Congress candidate from New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, has arrived for his padyatra. The beating of drums, showering of flowers and bursting of fire-crackers mark his arrival.

As Maken mingles with the people, pamphlets are handed out by Congress workers. There is some talk of the ‘right pamphlets’ having been left behind in office. Later, as we catch up with Maken, he says that he has made different sets of pamphlets for different sections of society as well as different Assembly constituencies under the New Delhi parliamentary constituency. “I have separate set of pamphlets for each of the Assembly constituencies as well as for slums, JJ clusters, etc.,” he explains.

As he goes around the constituency, Congress workers tell people why they should vote for Maken. “Garibon ke liye ek hi party hai, Congress (There is only one party for the poor, Congress),” they tell them, as slogans of “Mohar lagayenge haath pe” rent the air.

During his tour, Maken crosses an area overflowing with sewage. At this, party workers chant, “Congress jhuggi ko nahi hatayegi (The Congress will not remove jhuggis).”

Walking further up, Maken stops by a snooker table, where eight-year-old Abhishek and his friends are busy playing. Maken enquires if he could join them. Maken enquires about the rules of the game and how to hold the stick. As he aims and gets a ball in the hole, party workers cheer him, “Jeet gaye.” Before leaving, Maken calls Abhishek a “zabardast player” and puts one of his garlands around him.

Some women in the constituency complain about the lack of water supply. “Yahan pe pani nahi aata hai aur itni gandagi hai (There is no water in the area and it is so dirty),” complains Dhairami.

Parvati Devi, standing outside her jhuggi, complains that politicians only visit the area during elections. “Aaj hi kuch safai hui hai yahan pe (They cleaned the area only today),” she says.

Another resident complains of police harassment over new constructions. Maken tells him, “Any kind of new construction is not allowed here.”

Maken then meets Jagdish Pahadiya, another resident. “He gave me a letter to help me with my treatment. Maken has done a lot for this area,” he says.

Before leaving, he assures people that things will change after the elections. “The NDMC is working on a proposal for construction of 1,200 flats. You will be shifted to these flats, which will come up nearby,” Maken says.

On Thursday, as Maken makes his last stop at Prahladpur village at 7 pm, he speaks about his campaign strategy. “I am targeting different sections over different issues. New Delhi constituency has posh areas, JJ clusters, urbanised villages and government colonies. In urbanised villages, I emphasise on the work done by me as Union urban development minister. In government colonies, it is the upgradation of flats that was taken up while I was the UD minister,” he explains.

Explaining why one cannot have the same strategy for all areas, he said, “In posh colonies, you won’t see dhols and fire-crackers. That is why I have different pamphlets.”

In Prahladpur, he gets off his car and goes inside a travel agency office, which has become the converging point for his supporters. As cold drinks are handed to people around him, Sandeep Tawar, the pradhan of the area, reminds people of the work done by Maken.

Maken then climbs a chair to address the people. “A policy is being worked out to provide relief from sealing and demolition. A foot overbridge will also be constructed here. You need someone in the Central government who can get your work done and is approachable.”

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