News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » News » Kanhaiya On Strong Wicket, But...

Kanhaiya On Strong Wicket, But...

By Ashish Tiwari
May 25, 2024 13:25 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Manoj Tiwari is the only sitting MP whom the BJP has retained.

IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with Kanhaiya Kumar, the party candidate from the North East Delhi constituency, at an election meeting at Dilshad Garden, New Delhi, May 23, 2024. Photograph: Rahul Singh/ANI Photo

It's a race against time for Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

Taking to the podium, he wraps up his gratitude in a minute and lays down his mission for the people of Dilshad Garden and North East Delhi. He attacks his rivals and concludes his speech to make way for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

It's been only a couple of weeks since his name was announced by the party. Since then, "he has been going around the whole constituency," says a Congress worker who has accompanied him from Begusarai a seat Kanhaiya contested and lost in the last Lok Sabha polls.

"Iss 25 tarikh ko ik din ki garmi bardaast karni hai, taki mehngai, bekari, iss shetre ki ruki pragati bardaast na karni pade," says Kanhaiya, the INDIA bloc candidate for North East Delhi.

Even though people in this constituency are of the view that Kanhaiya is a strong candidate, his rival, Manoj Tiwari, is no pushover.

A popular Bhojpuri actor and singer, Tiwari won the 2019 elections by defeating the Congress's Sheila Dikshit by over 300,000 votes. The Bharatiya Janata Party as dominated the national capital, winning all seven seats in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A two-time member of Parliament from the seat is the only sitting candidate whom the BJP has retained. North East Delhi is mostly populated by migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (also known as Purvanchalis).

According to the 2011 Census, Muslims constitute around 13 per cent of Delhi's population; in North East Delhi, the figure stands at 29.34 per cent.

The North East Delhi constituency comprises 10 assembly segments, including Burari, Timarpur, Seemapuri (scheduled caste), Rohtas Nagar, Seelampur, Ghonda, Babarpur, Gokalpur (scheduled caste), Mustafabad, and Karawal Nagar.

Of the 10, only three are held by the BJP (Rohtas Nagar, Ghonda, and Karawal Nagar), and the remaining seven have AAP members of the legislative assembly.

Of the many issues that afflict the people of this constituency, the problem of sanitation is the worst.

"Garibi, berozgari dur ki baat hain, hum log toh yeh gutter aur gandagi se pareshan hain," says Sheetal Jha, a homemaker from Shahdara.

Apart from these issues, people also cite the tension between Hindu and Muslim communities. Something that Kanhaiya has spoken about in his campaign speeches. Four years ago, communal riots rocked North East Delhi. The violence, which continued for four days, claimed the lives of at least 53 people and left hundreds injured.

Mukesh, 54, walks through narrow lanes of Shiv Vihar -- one of the affected areas during the 2020 riots -- and remembers his friend who he lost.

Change is something that Kanhaiya had to adapt to after he lost the Begusarai elections, says a close aide. The former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president, fighting on a Communist Party of India ticket, contested and lost the 2019 polls from Begusarai to the BJP's Giriraj Singh by over 420,000 votes. He joined the Congress in October 2020.

"It might be ideological differences," says his friend.

Kanhaiya's candidature has been contested by former leaders of his own party. Former Delhi unit president Arvinder Singh Lovely resigned over tickets being distributed to 'strangers'. While Lovely joined the BJP, many who had quit criticised the alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.

'When one fights in a coalition, they reveal their plans... But this is the first coalition of governments that does not trust each other or sit together. They don't reveal their coalition manifesto either,' Lovely told the media during a BJP press conference.

But Congress members deny any conflict or confusion with the AAP.

"There's no problem as far as inter-party coordination is concerned. Be it for political mobilisation or organisational support, we have received a positive response from AAP," said Anshul Trivedi, a Congress member who is managing Kanhaiya's election campaign.

When not tackling his own party men, Kanhaiya is also looking at the fund crunch situation. For which he had launched a crowdfunding drive. Until the time of going to press, the drive had raised Rs 70 lakh (Rs 7 million), with the goal amount being Rs 75 lakh (Rs 7.5 million).

"People have this perception that Congress is a rich party, but that's not the case. Party netas might be, but the party isn't," Trivedi said.

Inputs from Rakshit Kumar

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Ashish Tiwari in New Delhi
Source: source
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024