The process for bypoll to the Rajouri Garden Assembly seat has started gaining momentum with the BJP and Congress candidates today filing their nomination papers. For the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the bypoll is a critical test of its popularity while for the Congress, the outcome will be significant for its revival. The election will be held on April 9, days before the national capital votes to choose councillors for the three corporations on April 22. Today was the last date for filing nominations. BJP is also eyeing the seat by fielding its leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
The Rajouri Garden seat fell vacant after AAP leader Jarnail Singh quit to contest the Lambi seat in Punjab against Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal. The seat was earlier won by SAD and BJP candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa in 2013. Jarnail had got 54,916 votes, defeating Sirsa by 10,036 votes in the 2015 Assembly polls (Rajouri Garden). In the recently held Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DGSGMC) election, Sirsa had defeated Paramjit Singh Sarna of Congress-backed SAD (Delhi) group from Punjabi Bagh ward.
Rajouri Garden is dominated by around 50 per cent population of Sikhs and Punjabis. The Assembly constituency is a mix of a resettlement colony in Raghubir Nagar, unauthorised colonies, the middle class Tagore Garden and upscale Rajouri Garden. The Congress has fielded Khyala councillor Meenakshi Chandela as its candidate while the AAP has come up with a new face – Harjeet Singh – for the bypoll. Chandela is a two-time councillor of Khyala, her husband Meghraj is also representing Vishnu Garden for the second time. These wards come under the Rajouri Garden Assembly constituency.
If Meenakashi Chandela wins the poll, she will be the first Congress legislator in the current assembly. The party got decimated in the 2015 elections. While AAP’s Harjeet Singh was born and brought up in Delhi, he did his graduation from Delhi University and went on to form a successful transport business. Sirsa, accompanied by Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari and MP Parvesh Verma, filed his nomination papers at Returning Officer’s Office in Rampura. AAP’s Harjeet Singh and Congress’s Chandela filed their nomination papers. The result that will be announced on April 13, coming just before the civic body polls, will be showcased by the winning party as having a varied support base and, hence, as a reflection of the mindset of the voters.
A senior Congress leader said the party was planning to arrange a public rally of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh before the bypoll to attract Sikh voters. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejirwal may also address a public rally in Rajouri Garden constituency. BJP has planned to rope in senior leaders in the list to address public rallies in the area.