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News18 » Politics
2-min read

With Visits to Slums, BJP & AAP Make Last-ditch Effort to Win Over Congress Vote Bank in Delhi

News18 visited slums in Seelampur, Patparganj and Kalkaji Extension to find a large number of party workers spread across the area making attempts to woo voters.

Rounak Kumar Gunjan | News18.com@Rounak_T

Updated:February 7, 2020, 4:15 PM IST
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With Visits to Slums, BJP & AAP Make Last-ditch Effort to Win Over Congress Vote Bank in Delhi
File photo of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia during a roadshow in the capital. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: In what seemed like a political fete, a large number of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers swarmed Delhi's slums in the last two days of campaigning. The rationale was simple — convert a traditional Congress vote bank into one of theirs.

BJP president JP Nadda had asked MPs on Tuesday to devote time after the session every day to different areas of Delhi. He said 240 party MPs would visit slums across the city from 6pm to 6am. He had also asked MPs to make ‘ratri pravas’ (night halts) in such areas to influence voters.

AAP also followed suit. Party campaigners have been staying in slums since last week to understand problems of dwellers and convince them that "Kejriwal is the solution”.

News18 visited slums in Seelampur, Patparganj and Kalkaji Extension to find a large number of party workers spread across the area making attempts to woo voters.

“Both BJP and AAP members have been visiting us, having dinner with both sides and wanting to make us vote for them. Earlier, only Congress used to come here and campaign," said 25-year-old Bablu, a resident of Nehru Camp in Kalkaji.

South Delhi's Kalkaji Extension, also touted as the city’s first in-situ redevelopment project, was part of the Delhi Development Authority’s ambitious project to rehabilitate 8,000-odd families living in three nearby Jhuggi-Jhopdi clusters (JJ cluster) — Nehru Camp, Navjeevan Camp and Bhoomiheen camp.

In September 2013, the then chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, laid the foundation stone of the 3,000-flat complex just before the assembly elections. However, the flat complex is yet to be completed.

Delhi has roughly 30 lakh people living in 675 slum clusters. Both BJP and AAP have been promising housing for all in their visits to the clusters.

"This is a statement we hear every election. A promise made and forgotten every time we need to choose a representative," added Bablu.

During the 2015 assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to make Delhi slum-free by 2022 and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal had promised ‘Jahan Jhuggi, wahan makan’ (in-situ redevelopment).

In December 2017, the Delhi government notified the Delhi Slums and JJ Relocation Policy, 2015.

The thrust of the slum rehabilitation policy was on in-situ rehabilitation within five-kilometre radius. In 2017, the Delhi government relocated 464 families from Nehru Camp slum cluster along the NH-24 in Patparganj to Dwarka sector 16, nearly 40kms away, as the land was needed for the widening of NH-24 that is now called the Delhi-Meerut expressway.

BJP party campaigners during their stay in slums have also highlighted that the Kejriwal government has denied people central government schemes such as Ayushman Bharat and that if the BJP comes to power in Delhi, it would construct ‘pucca’ houses for the slum-dwellers.

On the other hand, the AAP government is confident of securing the support of slum-dwellers because, it says, these residents are the biggest beneficiaries of the improvement in government schools, opening of mohalla (neighbourhood) clinics and free water and electricity up to a certain threshold.

On Sunday, the BJP launched its ‘Mahasampark Abhiyan’ or mega programme to connect with the Delhi electorate. As part of the ongoing programme, every house in Delhi would be visited by a Union minister.

In the Delhi Assembly elections, the challenge before the BJP is to add voters from poorer sections. The reason is that through government concessions, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has transformed this poor section into its vote bank.

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