Ballimaran, a predominantly Muslim settlement has been a Congress bastion since 1993 with Power Minister Haroon Yusuf winning four back-to-back elections but it may throw up a surprise this time due to "unkept" promise by the ruling party to ramp up infrastructure in the area.
One of the oldest colonies of Delhi which was once home to the master of Urdu poetry Mirza Ghalib, most of Ballimaran has now turned into wholesale market, bustling with shops and honking vehicles on the clogged roads. The narrow congested bylanes, darkness in the evening and overhead power cables have become synonymous with the area.
Lack of parking space and poor condition of some of the residential buildings were other major problems in the area. Though roads have been well maintained and kept clean for the settlement which is centuries old, the real problem is that nothing has changed when it comes to infrastructure.
A section of locals accused Yusuf of being "inaccessible" and claimed that voting for Congress has been their compulsion rather than a choice.
"He stays in his Rouse Avenue bungalow and rarely visited the area in the past. The major problem here has been scarcity of water. As elections are approaching, several borwells have been dug. Although the work is still incomplete, posters have come up claiming credit for solving water problem of the area," said Haji Ismail, a local.
Talking about the hanging power cables, another resident Rafiq Ali said Yusuf had on so many occasions assured that the wires will put underground but nothing has been done so far. Besides the development issue, the coming battle could be tough for Yusuf as both Aam Aadmi Party and BSP have fielded Muslim candidates.
"Muslims vote for Congress mainly because they don't want to vote for BJP. With Farhana Anjum from AAP and Imran Hussain from BSP in the fray this time, the Muslim vote may get divided," said Hashim Beg, a resident of the area. He also points out that Congress lost three of the four municipal wards in the MCD elections last year.
Interestingly two municipal wards were won by BJP while RLD came out victorious in another ward. Imran Hussain, the only Congress candidate who had won the Idgah Road ward, has now shifted allegiance to BSP and is contesting the assembly polls from the Mayawati-led party.
The BSP had come third in the last assembly election with 10,331 votes while BJP candidate Moti Lal Sodhi had polled 28,423 votes. Another contender in the constituency is AAP's Farhana Anjum who had contested the MCD election as an RLD candidate from one of the wards and lost the contest by a small margin of 500 votes. BJP has again nominated Sodhi as the party candidate.
Yusuf had won the 2008 election by a margin of 6,237 votes and his crtic said it will not be easy for him this time as he did not keep majority of his promises like streamlining the water distribution system, improving drainage and improving other infrastructure.
Besides "unkept promises", what actually may hurt the Congress is the food inflation "Our household budgets have gone haywire with even onions and tomatoes becoming a luxury. We want change but the alternative is just not worth voting for," said Abdul Gaffar, a local trader. He said schools and hospitals in the area are in "bad shape" and despite repeated requests nothing has been done to improve their condition.
When asked, Yusuf, however, claimed that lot of developmental works have been carried out in the area in the last five years and exhuded confidence of his victory. The constituency has a total of 1,28,946 voters out of which 56,980 are women and 71,963 are men.