Voices From Bawana: Rural angst, disillusionment worked for AAP

For AAP, the challenge had always been the 26 villages of the reserved constituency. The BJP attempted to woo the Jat-dominated area by ensuring that Parvesh Singh Verma, son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma, campaigned as a ‘star candidate’.

Written by Aditi Vatsa | New Delhi | Published: August 29, 2017 5:46 am
bawana bypolls, bawana bye-election, aam aadmi party, arvind kejriwal, bjp, ved prakash, delhi news, latest news, india news, indian express AAP supporters after the bypoll results were announced. Prem Nath Pandey

The electoral story of Bawana has always been of two extremes — rural villages and clustered colonies. The former have voted traditionally for the BJP, the latter for Congress. But this arithmetic changed on Monday, with AAP emerging victorious in both areas.

For AAP, the challenge had always been the 26 villages of the reserved constituency. The BJP attempted to woo the Jat-dominated area by ensuring that Parvesh Singh Verma, son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma, campaigned as a ‘star candidate’.

At Punjab Khor village, there were some answers to why this didn’t work. “Delhi governments have never cared about the villages, the city has always been about urban areas. But Kejriwal promised us Rs 2 crore per village for development. No one has ever done this before,” said Rajinder Chaudhari (54), a farmer.

Chaudhari was referring to AAP’s electoral promise of the ‘Smart Village’ scheme, wherein the government would give a total of Rs 52 crore for Bawana — much higher than the Rs 4 crore that an MLA receives for his constituency.

In Shahbad Dairy, Bawana’s largest unauthorised colony, which used to be a Congress stronghold until the emergence of the AAP in 2013, Prashant Kumar, a migrant from Gorakhpur, said, “We are tired of the Congress. Yes, they did great work and their candidate is one of us. He has lived here since the colony was formed; we know him and we trust him. But the party is not in power anywhere.”

Manisha Devi, a migrant from Samastipur, pointed to the defection of  Ved Prakash from AAP to the BJP as a factor. “Why did he leave? We voted for him and he abandoned us. He doesn’t deserve a second chance.”

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