New Delhi, Feb 4, 2020-
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal who became “giant killer” in 2013 assembly polls by defeating three time Chief Minister late Sheila Dikshit from New Delhi assembly constituency is on shaky ground this time as he is facing a tough fight from the Congress as well as the BJP.
The New Delhi assembly constituency became the epitome of power in 2013 assembly polls with Kejriwal emerged winner by defeating Dikshit and BJP’s Vijender Gupta.
Kejriwal received 53 per cent vote while Dikshit could garner 22.23 per cent and Gupta 21 per cent votes.
The New Delhi assembly constituency was formed during the 2008 delimitation and elected Dikshit that year, and subsequently the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and current Chief Minister won from here in 2013 and 2015.
The New Delhi magic is not restricted to just these three terms, as, before delimitation, a major part of the constituency fell under the Gole Market assembly segment, which too had elected Sheila Dikshit twice as the Delhi Chief Minister.
The high profile seat has given five chief ministers out of six assembly elections in the national capital. Even in 2015 assembly polls, Kejriwal’s magic remained intact as he once again defeated Kiran Walia (Congress) and Nupur Sharma (BJP) by huge margins as his vote share increased by 11 per cent. Kejriwal received 64 per cent votes as his party stormed to power by winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats in Delhi, while the BJP won only three seats, and the Congress drew a blank.
But this year, the AAP chief is facing a tough battle from Congress’s Romesh Sabharwal and BJP’s Sunil Yadav. The BJP, high on nationalism, is banking on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and abrogation of Article 370, while the Congress candidate, son of a retired government employee, has made the issue of outsider versus insider.
The New Delhi assembly seat is home to over 65 per cent of the government employees in areas like President Estate, Connaught Place, Pandara Park, Golf Links, Central Secretariat, Janpath, Gole Market, Sarojini Nagar, Kidwai Nagar, Bhagwan Das Lane, Lodhi Estate, Bharti Nagar, Jor Bagh and Laxmi Bai Nagar. It is also home to traders, has over 1.44 lakh voters — 79,047 males and 65,461 females.
Campaigning from the New Delhi seat, BJP’s Yadav said Kejriwal had fooled the people of the constituency by calling himself “aam aadmi” (a common man). “When Kejriwal came here (New Delhi) to fight election, people thought he would listen to them. But after five years, we hear he is a high-profile politician,” Yadav told IANS and denied any fear of facing the AAP leader.
“We had come out to defeat Sheila Dikshit. Now I am out to defeat Kejriwal,” Yadav said.
Yadav also said that he was fighting the election on local agenda. “I am talking about people living in JJ clusters in my constituency. I am talking about their water and electricity bills. New Delhi has not received the benefit of free water and electricity. I am talking about these,” Yadav said.
“Kejriwal forgot about the constituency after victory. I am a local and know about my constituency and the problems people have been facing,” the BJP leader said.
Meanwhile Congress’s Sabharwal said that New Delhi is one of the most literate seats as this constituency has the most number of government employees. “And I am their son. Kejriwal is an outsider in this area and I am insider of this area,” he said.
Sabharwal said that for the last 70 years, outsiders have been contesting from New Delhi and Kejriwal is one such example. He also accused the AAP leader of not opening a single mohalla clinic, not upgrading a single school and also did not work for the employment of a single youth from here.
Taking potshots at Kejriwal’s promise of cutting the electricity bills by half, Sabharwal said, “Electricity bills in the area have risen in the last five years under Kejriwal as he raised the rates of NDMC. And he brought the smart computerised meter bills for electricity which are running like the rockets of NASA.”
Highlighting the work of the Congress in the area, he said, “even in the JJ colonies during the Congress regime we charged only Rs 175 per connection for the poor families while Kejriwal has got the electricity meters installed and now they have to pay heavy bills.”
He did not give any job to the people of the Valmiki community and only abused them. He also abused the government employees by calling them corrupt. Are government employees corrupt?” he questioned.
The elections for the 70-member House is scheduled on February 8 and counting of votes will take place on February 11.
The Congress which was reduced to nil in 2015 assembly polls is looking for a comeback in this election. (Agency)