With campaigning for Delhi Assembly Elections entering its last leg, the narrow lanes of Dwarka constituency, a sub-city of Delhi near the capital’s airport, is buzzing with political discussions among its residents. But this time the discussions are not about bad roads, housing, education or even water, the perennial problem here.
Rajender Tomar, a 42-year-old shop owner in Mahavir Enclave, said things have improved in Dwarka over the last 15 years with more hospitals, schools, houses and better roads. But he is still unsure who to vote for. “The scene in Dwarka this time is confusing, candidates have switched parties, all three parties BJP-Congress-AAP have performed well too, I might decide my vote just before pressing the button on the voting day,” he said.
In an interesting twist, Dwarka’s sitting AAP MLA Adarsh Shastri, grandson of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri, is contesting the same seat from Congress after being denied ticket from AAP, while Congress veteran Mahabal Mishra’s son Vinay Mishra joined AAP only days before it released the list of candidates. The BJP, meanwhile, retained its former Dwarka MLA Pradyuman Rajput.
The party switches have affected voter’s mindset and this time they seem to be focusing on the names.
Saroj Rani has been living in Delhi for over four decades. She has been a loyal supporter of AAP since the party was formed. “Even though Shastri did a lot of work in the past five years, I will vote for Mishra because he has joined AAP,” she said.
Former Congress party worker Sunita Gupta said she wants to vote for Mishra but not AAP. “I have no choice but to vote for AAP because I have known the candidate for years and Mishra should win from this constituency.”
Garnering door to door support, Mishra is confident about his win and is seeking support in Kejriwal’s name. “My vote bank has only doubled as both Congress and AAP are supporting me. My father who was initially in disagreement with my decision is now supporting my decision and also campaigning for me,” said Mishra.
A cobbler from Sagarpur said the candidate’s work matter more than the party. “If Shastri has joined Congress, I will vote for Congress. I have observed Shastri’s work for the last five years and conditions here have only improved,” said Deep Saha, a migrant from Bihar.
Slamming Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party for “selling the ticket to the Congress”, Shastri is banking on the work he has done in the last term and not on his present party banner. “I have been among the people during my tenure as MLA of Dwarka, they know me, they have seen my work and I don’t think the party switch will affect my vote bank,” said Shastri.
With nearly two lakh voters, Dwarka constituency, which came into existence in 2008, has been labeled as one of the five most backward constituencies in Delhi. Dwarka is also one of those few constituencies that have elected leaders from all three parties in the last three elections.
In 2008, Congress’ Mahabal Mishra got elected from Dwarka. In 2013, Pradyuman Rajput from BJP won the seat. In 2015, as AAP secured a landslide victory with 67 out of 70 seats, Dwarka backed Shastri.
Voters say the constant change in guard has brought development in Dwarka. “Each time leaders came with their own developmental agenda and all of them were fulfilled resulting in better infrastructure in Dwarka, “ said Bhawar Singh, a resident of Dabri.
However, living in an unauthorised colony of Dabri for over 40-years, Singh is expecting his house to be registered under BJP’s initiative to register houses in Delhi.
“If BJP is promising that my house can be registered, there’s no bigger relief and I don’t mind voting for BJP even if their ideology of Hindu Rashtra doesn’t appeal to me,” said Singh.
The BJP candidate said “most of Dwarka constitutes unauthorised colonies” and no other party has touched upon the registry of houses in these colonies. “People of Dwarka are waiting to get their house registered and people know only BJP can do that,” Rajput said, adding that the Congress and AAP have tangled themselves in the switch politics and “this will only increase” his vote banks because bJP is clear of its agenda, of its candidate and its voters.”
Dwarka is a part of West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency along with nine other Assembly segments which include Madipur, Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Janakpuri, Vikaspuri, Uttam Nagar, Matiala and Najafgarh.
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