Updated: February 4, 2015 1:13:53 pm
Even as the BJP, Congress and AAP exude confidence of winning the battle for prestigious Malviya Nagar seat, the infamous midnight raid at Khirki Extension may prove to be the deciding factor when people cast their votes on Saturday.
While AAP leader and former Minister Somnath Bharti said he is “pretty sure” of his victory, Congress and BJP candidates feel last year’s raid episode involving him may prove to be his Achilles’ Heel.
Congress has fielded veteran leader and former two-time MLA from the area Yoganand Shastri while BJP has nominated newface Nandani Sharma.
Shastri, who had won from Malviya Nagar in 1998 and 2003 believes the repercussions of the “Khirki raid” will work in favour of him as people were “upset” with the incident.
“Bharti was a popular leader of AAP. But, after that incident, the popularity graph of Bharti has gone down. I am fighting the polls on a specific development agenda,” Shastri said.
Countering that, AAP says the incident may have on the surface damaged the party’s reputation, but it has helped it “win support” of large number people of the area.
“AAP’s support base has increased after that incident, especially among the youth. Since, Bharti is an IIT-Delhi alumnus, he also enjoys support among students,” an AAP official said.
Bharti had courted controversy last year after he was accused of involvement in a raid against an alleged prostitution racket in Khirki Extension area.
The AAP leader won the seat in 2013 polls defeating then Congress Minister Kiran Walia. He claimed that he was given the constituency in a “state of ICU” and now he has brought it to the “ward stage”.
“If we win again, we will take it further to ‘normal state’ from the ‘ward state’ and the development of the area can then begin from there. Also, for water issues we have planned setting up of water-harvesting system in the area,” Bharti said.
Residents of the area say water, sewage and parking are major issues in the constituency.
Bharti said AAP was going strong and that people will return the mandate to him in the polls.
Countering his claim is 69-year-old Shastri, also a former MLA from Mehrauli, who says that Congress should see a “smooth sailing” in this constituency, given the party’s track record there.
“I see a very positive outcome for Congress in Malviya Nagar. BJP has a completely new candidate whom nobody knows and Congress is going to ahead of AAP here,” Shastri said.
With parking for vehicles being a major issue, both candidates have plans in mind to bring some kind of solution to that nagging problem.
“We have identified 9-10 areas where we will build underground parking and a park over it. We also have improved street lighting system and more improvement is in the offing if we are voted to power,” Bharti said.
BJP’s Sharma said people will reject both AAP and Congress. “I have a specific agenda for the area. People will vote for BJP.”
Malviya Nagar seat is part of the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency that includes Hauz Khas, Green Park, Safdarjung Enclave, among other areas.
Issues of residential areas being turned into commercial zones and corruption are also likely to weigh over voters’ minds.
BJP Delhi Unit Chief Satish Upadhyay, who is also a ward councillor from Malviya Nagar, believes poll issues of this constituency are the same as for the rest of Delhi.
“We think that our fight is equal everywhere and we want to emerge strong on most of the seats. Yes, I am a councillor from the area, but we believe, the issues of water and other matters are everywhere, and we want to bring good work at all places including Malviya Nagar,” he said.
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