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BJP gains strength in East Delhi's Trilokpuri, Kondli, Patparganj; AAP still strong, Congress missing

BJP gains strength in East Delhi's Trilokpuri, Kondli, Patparganj; AAP still strong, Congress missing

Kondli and Trilokpuri are dominated by people from lower middle class while Patparganj is inhabited by middle and upper middle class.

Narrow and congested lanes overflowing with filth, open drains, illegal constructions, unauthorised colonies with houses so close that even the sun fails to reach the ground floor characterise a major part of the three constituencies of Delhi which lie on the eastern border with Uttar Pradesh. Two of them, Kondli and Trilokpuri, are reserved for Scheduled Castes while the third is Patparganj which has a sizeable chunk of middle and upper middle class residing in high rise apartments with all modern amenities lacking in other areas.

There are several villages, too, nestled amidst the unauthorised and resettlement colonies of the three constituencies which yearn for better roads, sanitation, uninterrupted power supply, clean drinking water, and better law and order.

A vast majority of the residents in the three constituencies belong to the lower middle class and poorer section of the society and their main issues are related to everyday life. They want betterment of their areas and the major grouse among them is that none of the political parties pay heed to their problems after elections are over.

While caste is not a major factor in these areas, class is. Kondli and Trilokpuri are dominated by people from the poorer and lower middle class while Patparganj has one of the largest concentration of apartment blocks in Delhi which is inhabited by middle and upper middle class.

In the December 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party had swept the three seats with Raju Dhingan, Manoj Kumar and Manish Sisodia winning Trilokpuri, Kondli and Patparganj respectively. Bharatiya Janata Party candidates were runners-up in all the three seats with the Congress pushed to the margins.

But the scene has changed dramatically as Delhi gets ready to once again elect a new 70-member Assembly on February 7. Kejriwal's AAP has lost some of its sheen after the party took Congress support to form a government in Delhi and then quit after 49 days. AAP's penchant for dharnas and agitation while it was in government saw a vast section of the middle class moving away from it and backing the BJP now.

Yet AAP is still very strong in Kondli, Trilokpuri and Patparganj even as the BJP has made some gains especially after it swept all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi.

Kondli: Formed in 2008 delimitation, there are just over 1 lakh voters in this constituency which comprises of rural, resettlement and unauthorised colonies. Kondli is made up of Khichripur Colony, Indira Camp, Gharoli, Ghazipur, Dallupura and Harijan Basti and its residents are from the lower middle class and poor sections. Most of them work as daily wage labourers, rickshaw and auto drivers, construction and factory workers.

Bad roads, garbage dumps, open drains, inflated water and electricity bills along with poor law and order are some of the issues of the area. Some of the lanes are so narrow that it is very difficult to even drive a two wheeler. Traffic jams and poor connectivity with other areas of Delhi, too, rankle its residents who also complain of rising crimes.

The main contestants here are AAP's sitting MLA Manoj Kumar, former Congress MLA Amrish Singh Gautam and BJP's Hukum Singh. In 2013 Kumar had defeated Dushyant Kumar Gautam of BJP by 7,490 votes. But even though several Kondli residents still vouch for AAP and Kejriwal, many also allege that Kumar did not pay much attention in resolving problems facing the constituency.

Although BJP should have been the gainer but the party has replaced Dushyant Kumar Gautam with Hukum Singh who has influence in only a few pockets of the seat. Congress's Amrish Singh Gautam, too, has his own support base but his party is not seen as a serious player which is likely to help the AAP.

Kondli voters still see a ray of hope in Kejriwal and they are of the view that he was not allowed to perform by the BJP and Congress.

Trilokpuri: This seat, too, is reserved for the Scheduled Castes and AAP's Raju Dhingan had trounced BJP's Sunil Kumar over 17,000 votes in 2013. Dhingan is still on a strong wicket but the October 2014 riots have polarised a large section of the voters on religious lines boosting BJP's prospects.

Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, too, has put up a candidate Dr Girish who has support in several pockets which can hit AAP's chances of repeating the 2013 feat. But Kejriwal is seen as a clean leader by Trilokpuri residents. They say he can solve Delhi's problems.

Just like Kondli, the major issues in Trilokpuri are lack of roads, cleanliness, regularisation of unauthorised colonies, poor law and order, lack of drinking water supply and inflated electricity bills.

But BJP, too, has a committed vote bank and they blame AAP and Congress for the riots in October 2014. The party has put up Kiran Vaidya, wife of late MLA Sunil Vaidya. Congress candidate Brahm Pal is seen as an also ran.

Trilokpuri has over 2 lakh voters with majority of them Valmikis (40 per cent) and other Dalits (20 per cent). Traditionally Congress supporters, this group is mostly with the AAP since 2013 although some of them have moved towards the BJP after the riots.

Muslims also form a sizeable chunk and are around 20 per cent of the voters while the other communities make up the remaining 20 per cent. While Muslims are divided among AAP, BSP and Congress, rest of the voters are backing BJP.

Patparganj: AAP's Manish Sisodia had defeated BJP's Nakul Bhardwaj by 11,476 votes with Congress candidate Anil Kumar finishing a distant third in 2013. BJP has now placed its faith in former AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny who quit Kejriwal's party failing to land a ministerial berth.

Binny's candidature has led to a lot of heartburn in the BJP especially as Nakul Bhardwaj was seen as a strong candidate as the middle and upper middle class has moved away from AAP. With Sisodia still having massive support on unauthorised colonies, villages and slums, the BJP is facing an uphill task although it sure of getting votes from the middle class.

Even a senior BJP leader admitted that the party is weak in those areas which are dominated by the poor which may cost it dearly.

Binny is banking on the Narendra Modi factor to see him through while Sisodia is confident that AAP's promise of curbing corruption, lower power and electricity bills, steps for women's security etc will be the clincher.

Congress candidate Anil Kumar just like Binny is from the Gujjar community but is not really in the race.

Congress candidate from Kondli Amrish Singh Gautam has been a two time MLA from this seat but in 2013 AAP's broom swept away both the Congress and BJP. This seat has both well planned apartments and unauthorised colonies and slums making it an interesting seat.

There are over 2 lakh voters, with a majority of them tracing their roots to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttaranchal.