The Gorakhpur hospital tragedy, leaders of the AAP and the Congress believe, will convince voters in poll-bound Bawana to not vote from the BJP. As distant as the connection may be, the purvanchali voters in the area, leaders of the two parties believe, are affected by what happens in Uttar Pradesh. Senior AAP leaders conceded that the mood after the BJP’s win in Uttar Pradesh Assembly was an important factor that sealed BJP’s victory in Delhi’s municipal polls.
Bypoll in Bawana — necessitated after current MLA Ved Prakash resigned AAP and joined BJP — is scheduled for August 23.
Conversations in Bawana now revolve around the deaths of over a 100 children in Gorakhpur. Anil Sharma, a resident of Bawana and a BJP supporter, explained, “The area has a lot of people who are from eastern UP, and this is something they feel strongly about.”
The issues on which the polls are being contested in Bawana are varied. In the rural parts, the demand for water for irrigation is intense.
Elsewhere, in Shahbad Dairy for instance, residents speak of inadequate health facilities. “Health and education are big issues. There have been improvement in schools, but hospitals don’t have enough doctors,” said Mohammed Ahmed, another resident.
Former MLA Ved Prakash said, “In the three mohalla clinics, there are insufficient medicines and standards are not up to the mark. The 150-bed hospital has a staff shortage of 14 per cent, at least 60 per cent nurses are on contract basis and there are insufficient beds. The AAP is to blame for this because they didn’t allow me to work.” AAP’s counter to the allegation is “why did you leave if so much had to be done”.
But it is in these colonies, said a BJP leader, that the impact of Gorakhpur would be felt most keenly. “If you look at AAP, they are focusing on the Purvanchali vote. The leaders coming here, like Gopal Rai, are from the area, who is also the candidate,” the BJP leader said. However, officially, the BJP maintained otherwise. “What happened in Gorakhpur is tragic and the BJP government will take prompt action. But what about the tragic deaths of DJB workers, which has happened in AAP’s backyard. Why are they not taking any action?” said BJP leader Arvinder Singh Lovely.
“There are still eight days for the polls. But yes, the incident has exposed the BJP,” said Saurabh Bhardwaj, AAP spokesperson.
Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken added, “The Congress is seeking votes on the basis of development work. But the other parties have only indulged in publicity stunts in the last three years.”