Updated: January 28, 2020 1:45:06 am
At East Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar, with sharp battlelines drawn between candidates — Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely, BJP’s Anil Bajpai and AAP’s Naveen Chaudhary — each is hoping that work done by him on the ground is enough to convince voters come February 8. And each has something in common — at some point in their political career, all of them have switched parties.
In 2017, Lovely, a three-time MLA, moved from Congress to BJP after he was denied a ticket in the MCD polls. A former president of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, he was elected to the Delhi Legislative Assembly as the youngest MLA in 1998. After a short stint with the BJP, he returned to the Congress, calling himself an ‘ideological misfit’ in the BJP.
He has, in the past, been Minister for Urban Development & Revenue, Education, Transport, Tourism, Languages, Local Bodies & Gurdwara Administration in the Sheila Dikshit government. He contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from East Delhi, and finished second to BJP’s Gautam Gambhir.
“Work done by Lovely is still remembered by residents of the area. He is approachable and cares about basic needs of people. Though he has shifted and returned to the party, but as an individual leader, he has improved the area’s condition,” said S C Vasudev, who owns a shop in Gandhi Nagar market.
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Surrounded by other colonies, including Geeta Colony, Seelampur and Krishna Nagar, the constituency had voted for Bajpai, who contested on an AAP ticket, in 2015. But in May 2019, he joined BJP, claiming that the party had “detracted from its original path”. He has been given a ticket by the BJP this time round.
“We haven’t seen him on the roads or interacting with residents. But I believe it is important to have the same party government at the central and the state level. If we have the same ideology at both levels, it will be easier for MLAs to get work done,” said Sanjay Bhatia, a resident of the area.
In 2015, Bajpai had received 45% votes, followed by BJP’s Jitender, who got 38% votes. Congress had fielded Surender Prakash Sharma since Lovely was given the role of heading the DPCC. The party had finished last.
AAP has put Chaudhary, who has had a long association with the Congress, in the fray this time. On January 13, several other Congress leaders had joined AAP. “We don’t know the candidate yet but (CM) Kejriwal is giving us free power and water. Schools have improved; women get free rides in buses. These are important for a resident,” said Lakshmi Singh, a resident of Mahila Colony.
Tucked in the trans-Yamuna area, the constituency is a middle-income commercial-cum-residential area known for the Gandhi Nagar Market, among Asia’s largest readymade garments/textile markets. Administratively, it is one of the three sub-divisions of the East Delhi district (the others being Preet Vihar and Vivek Vihar) and one of 10 state legislative assembly constituencies under it.
On Monday, CM Arvind Kejriwal took out a road show in the constituency from Krishna Nagar to Seelampur. Along with hundreds of supporters, he toured the colonies in a gypsy. Many residents expressed support for AAP. Mohammad Amir (42), a kirana store owner, said, “Lovely has done a lot here, but we want Kejriwal for CM. He has worked hard on issues such as education and electricity.”
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