New Delhi: The Lok Sabha constituency of North West Delhi will go to poll in the sixth phase of the 2019 general election on May 12.
The constituency, reserved for Scheduled Castes, has the highest number of voters in the national capital (23.78 lakh) and the lowest number of candidates fighting election in any Delhi Lok Sabha seat this time.
Here, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate, Hans Raj Hans, will be engaged in an electoral battle with the Congress’ Rajesh Lilothia and Aam Aaadmi Party’s (AAP) Gugan Singh, both former MLAs.
A bellwether seat, North West Delhi has voted for the winning party in 10 out of 11 Lok Sabha elections since 1977.
North West Delhi is predominantly rural and dotted by unauthorised colonies with a sizeable population of Muslims and Dalits. Both the Congress and AAP are looking at these vote blocs, as their rival is hoping for a division of anti-BJP votes.
While sanitation, lack of employment options, unauthorised colonies and law and order are some of the issues plaguing the constituency, the nationalism fervour among most of the voters could mean that the saffron camp has an advantage.
The sitting MP, Udit Raj of the BJP, wasn’t given a ticket this time following which he joined the Congress.
For the BJP’s Hans Raj Hans, who hails from Punjab, the battle will be tough as he is pitted against local politicians and is fighting with an outsider tag. However, many in the constituency believe that Hans will get the votes not for himself, but for Modi.
Many residents also agree with the BJP’s decision not to field the incumbent MP. They claim that even the ‘Modi wave’ could not have possibly saved Raj from losing.
“Raj is selfish. First, he did not work, and then left the party on being denied a ticket,” says Ved Prakash, a Jat and a retired elderly resident of Mundka.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Raj had won the seat with a margin of 1,06,802 votes. Raj had bagged 6,29,860 votes as against AAP’s Rakhi Birla who got the second spot with 5,23,058 votes. Congress leader Krishna Tirath was pushed to the third spot with just 1,57,468 votes.
Most of the North West constituency is dominated by members of the Jat community. It also has a sizeable SC population (about 19%), according to various surveys.
The constituency has thousands of migrant workers settled in unauthorised colonies, JJ (jhuggi jhopri) clusters and slums spread across Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri and Sultanpur Majra. While Jats form a large vote bank, middle and upper-middle classes have a presence in areas like Rohini.
Attached to Haryana, most habitats of the area are Haryanvi Jats. The Delhi Metro has connected the border area with the rest of the capital.
“Even Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has not arrived here. We are tired of raising this issue with the leaders, be it the MLA or the councillor,” says Daya, a local resident of Tikri Border.
Om Prakash, 65, a Jat, who claimed to be an ex-servicemen was sitting at the Tikri Bus Depot.
The Modi-fan, however, has complaints against the present government. “There is neither cleanliness nor proper roads. There is no water connection to the houses either. We get water from tankers that come from Nangloi once in a week. Residents fight with each other to fill their pitchers,” says Prakash.
An important area of this constituency is Mundka, also referred to by many as the capital of pollution in Delhi.
This is a concern for some, including first-time voters. Shivam, 21, says, “The government allows pollution-causing factories to run.”
(With inputs from Akash Gulankar)