At a time when most political parties have been banking on the popularity of a single leader to draw votes, West Delhi’s Hari Nagar constituency may offer a welcome change.
The reason, voters say, is the accessibility, familiarity and previous work done by the AAP and Congress candidates in the constituency. The BJP candidate, though popular on social media, does not evoke the same connect, residents say.
In the fray in Hari Nagar is AAP’s Rajkumari Dhillon, Congress’s Surinder Setia, and BJP’s Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga.
Dhillon, who is a former Congress councillor from a ward in Hari Nagar, joined the AAP earlier this month. Setia is a councillor from a ward in Subhash Nagar. Bagga, a Delhi BJP spokesperson since 2017, will be contesting polls for the first time.
But the competition, according to Subhash Nagar resident Ravinder Sharma, is between AAP and Congress.
“You can approach (Setia) anytime and he will listen to you and try to solve your issues,” the 39-year-old said, adding, “Dhillon is also a good candidate; we have sought her help in the past. But for us, Setia ji is better. We also support what Modi ji is doing nationally and we vote for him. But here (the BJP) has fielded a candidate who not many people know.”
Setia appears to have a stronghold in Subhash Nagar. Rajesh, a resident, said, “He is a councillor and people know him because he lives here, which would definitely get him votes. But the constituency is huge and in areas like Janakpuri, people may not know him. That said, the seat is likely to go to AAP, because of the work it has done.”
The constituency includes urban and rural localities, and industrial and JJ clusters. It covers areas in and around Hari Nagar, Janakpuri, Mayapuri and Subhash Nagar, and has largely middle class neighbourhoods.
Dhillon appears to be a popular name in pockets of Hari Nagar. Shingara Singh (69), a retired central government employee, said, “No one can say that Dhillon ji has not done any work during her term; be it construction of roads, sewage lines, installing streetlights. Moreover, she is from the area and everyone knows her. That makes a strong connection.”
Dhillon’s name has seamlessly merged with AAP’s poll plank of bijli-paani, education and healthcare. Sourabh Nangia (28), a resident of Hari Nagar, said, “When she was a councillor, she would do everything in her power to help you. Besides that, AAP has done work here, installed CCTV cameras, government schools nearby are good, water supply and quality is good. We’re basically happy with everything.”
Compared with these local leaders, Bagga seems like a “little known outsider” for residents. Only a few were aware of his popularity on social media platforms, and many asked why he has been fielded from the constituency.
Even though BJP leaders have been pushing forward the decisions taken by the Central government — such as surgical strikes, scrapping of Article 370 and the new Citizenship law — to make gains in Delhi, the mood on the ground in Hari Nagar is to vote for “local issues”.
G S Bedi (42), a resident of Asha Park, said, “Why has the BJP fielded (Bagga), no one knows. He is not even from here. He is popular on Twitter, but can that make you an MLA?”
Ajit Singh (43), from Fateh Nagar, said, “What the BJP at the Centre is doing is good, but in this election, local issues matter. It looks like the party will give a strong contest to the AAP this time.”
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