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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » A Bird's Eye View Of Delhi's Election

A Bird's Eye View Of Delhi's Election

December 12, 2022 16:24 IST
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I watched from my balcony and found that during the next eight hours up to 5.30 pm, not one prospective voter was seen to go to the Congress table, notes Rashme Sehgal.
The rush was all around the BJP table.

IMAGE: Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party national Convener Arvind Kejriwal with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai and other leaders during celebrations after AAP crossed the majority mark in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls at the party headquarters. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

The East Patel Nagar where I live was one of the centres which witnessed a pitched battle fought by the Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress for the keenly contested Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections.

The run-up for the elections saw loudspeaker carrying scooter rickshaws drive through the streets extolling residents to vote for one of the three parties, depending on which party had hired that party scooter rickshaw for that day.

The AAP had an edge on the decibel score primarily because my immediate neighbour is AAP Minister Raaj Kumar Anand who symbolises the present political leader of today.

Anand never made any effort to interact with the holloi polloi of East Patel Nagar.

Unlike the politicians of yore, who would have an unending stream of the public coming to their house from 6 in the morning wanting a 'sifarish' for a job, a phone connection or a child admission, Anand never stepped out of the four walls of his house to interact with the public at large.

The only time we come to know he was present was when a series of white SUVs could be seen parked outside his house at night.

But election time is a different kettle of fish.

Since Anand never stepped out to interact with the public in this key constituency he made up for his absence by ensuring an unending stream of scooter rickshaws drove through the streets of East Patel Nagar all day beseeching the public to vote for their candidate Dr Shelly Oberoi who was contesting under the immediate 'guidance' of Raghav Chadha, AAP's Rajya Sabha MP who incidentally is a resident of the neighbouring Rajinder Nagar colony.


IMAGE: A child dressed as Arvind Kejriwal takes part in the celebrations of AAP's victory in the MCD polls. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

The RSS-BJP has a strong base in this part of Delhi primarily because many of these colonies were built to house refugees from erstwhile West Punjab who settled here following Partition in 1947.

Being a largely Punjabi business community, it was these refugee families that provided the first batch of prominent leaders in the BJP as it gained strength in Delhi, namely Madan Lal Khurana and Vijay Kumar Malhotra with the former being a chief minister of Delhi while the latter rose to be leader of the Opposition in the Delhi assembly for a good five years.

Incidentally, Jhandewala, which houses the RSS headquarters in north Delhi, is very much part of this sprawling urban complex.

So it was left to many of these old guard BJP leaders to return to the old style campaigning of going door-to-door and asking residents to vote for BJP candidate Deepali Kapoor.

They did so with a great deal of fanfare. Dressed in orange bandgala waistcoasts and orange mufflers to ward off the cold and carrying BJP flags in their hands they told all and sundry, "Saade candidate nu jitana (Make our candidate win)."

The Congress candidate was Shakuntala Kumari, obviously a last minute entry and a political novice.

Like her party at large, she had no support on the ground and it was left to successive scooter rickshaw drivers to convey her taped message to this urban conglomerate.

The state of the Congress party can be summed up from the fact that its leader did not know whether his name was registered in the voters list!

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party supporters celebrate the Delhi MCD election results outside a counting centre at Patel Nagar. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

On the day of the elections, as has been the practice in the past, the BJP office volunteers set up a table outside my house at 9 am sharp.

Manned by six white-haired volunteers, whose job was to check the name of every prospective voter to ensure that her/his name was on the voting list.

The voter is then given a number to enter the voting area where the EVMs have been kept and which this time around also was located in the nearby Kalindhi college.

Not to be outdone, Anand had a table placed outside his house manned by two AAP volunteers one of whom was a young Sardar.

Two houses away, two Congress volunteers also set up a table on the road side.

I watched from my balcony and found that during the next eight hours up to 5.30 pm, not one prospective voter was seen to go to their table. The rush was all around the BJP table.

Like typical Punjabis, the BJP volunteers drank copious cups of tea and ate chana bhature and samosas and jalebis and exchanged gossip, confident that they would win this time around again having headed the MCD for the last 15 years.

The voting booth inside Kalindi college was set up in an extremely streamlined fashion.

A contingent of over twenty policemen, some armed, were manning this booth.

The college authorities seemed to be all hospitality with white rexine sofa sets being laid out for the cops including five women cops, who in the evening were also feted with steaming hot tea and samosas.

There was some discrimination because the government employees requisitioned to man these booths were neither offered chai or snacks.

The well heeled urban voter did not seem unduly excited because the vote percentage this time round was around 50 per cent.

IMAGE: AAP supporters celebrate outside a counting centre for the MCD elections at Gole Market. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

The results of the 2022 MCD election -- 134 AAP and 104 BJP -- turned out to be something of a cliffhanger with AAP not winning as easily as they had expected to do.

For the Congress, the results were a disaster. They had no credible leader and no campaign on the ground.

The BJP, by contrast, had conducted a high voltage campaign roping in seven chief ministers and several Union ministers at the Centre with BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda doing door-to-door campaigning.

The nine tickets the Congress wrested were largely from Muslim and Dalit voters.

What stopped the Congress to come up with a credible campaign is anyone's guess.

"They love committing hara-kiri as they have done successfully with one election after another," is what one Congress loyalist pointed out with a sigh,

IMAGE: AAP supporters pose for a selfie while celebrating the MCD poll victory outside the Gole Market counting centre. Photograph: Shrikant Singh/ANI Photo

It is to AAP's credit that they took on and won against this high power BJP machinery.

Weightage to performance and credible deliverance in areas of health, education, electricity and water went in AAP's favour and it was obvious that the Delhi public wanted a change.

Of course, the 'hit' jobs conducted by the BJP against AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Satyendra Jain had its impact.

Both AAP leaders were accused of corruption and are presently under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation.

These allegations did impact the psyche of voters because in Sisodia's Patparganj assembly seat, the BJP won three of the four MCD wards while in Jain's Shakur Basti assembly seat, the BJP won all three MCD wards.

All I can say is that these MCD elections played out more like state -- almost national --elections.

What was at stake, (apart from directly impacting the lives of Delhi's 20 million population) was the Delhi MCD's Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion) annual budget.

IMAGE: AAP workers celebrate the MCD poll victory outside the Gole Market counting centre. Photograph: Shrikant Singh/ANI Photo

Now that Arvind Kejriwal has also set up a 'double engine' sarkar, he will have no excuses to give for non-performance.

The prime minister runs a 'double engine' sarkar across several states, but is in the fortunate position to win election after election without having to give this level of accountability.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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