Changed boundaries add uncertainty to polls in Delhi (With Image)

April 24th, 2009 - 12:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Mayank Aggarwal
New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Party campaigners find they do not know many of the areas now within their constituency as delimitation has altered the political demography of the capital. The maps of all seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi have been redrawn.

While three constituencies - Delhi Sadar, Karol Bagh and Outer Delhi - cease to exist, three new constituencies, northwest Delhi, northeast Delhi and west Delhi, have been formed. Balloting is scheduled for May 7.

Now each parliamentary constituency has 10 assembly segments and has an average of 1.58 million voters.

Though both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - the main contenders in Delhi - maintain that delimitation will have no impact on their prospects, their campaigners are having a tough time to get to know their voters in new areas.

Post-delimitation Chandni Chowk, which used to be one of the smallest constituencies areawise, has new areas like Adarsh Nagar, Shalimar Bagh, Shakur Basti, Tri Nagar, Wazirpur, Model Town and Sadar Bazar. In the last election, there were 337,462 voters. Now the electorate has gone up four times to 1.41 million.

Union minister Kapil Sibal is the sitting MP and the Congress candidate once again.

“Earlier the constituency had a huge Muslim population which used to benefit Congress candidates. However, this time around the constituency has acquired a cosmopolitan look with the addition of new areas. Whether Sibal acknowledges it or not, he knows the reality and that is why he is putting in extra time and effort in the area to secure the seat,” said a local Congress worker who wished to remain unnamed.

One of Sibal’s new voters is 24-year-old student Rinkie Jain, a resident of Shalimar Bagh. “As a party the Congress has done nothing for the city. I don’t want Kapil Sibal to be my MP. I will definitely vote for the BJP and will even ask my friends and relatives to do the same,” Jain told IANS.

The New Delhi seat was once called the home seat of Indian bureaucracy. That character of the constituency has changed this time, with the addition of areas like Karol Bagh, Rajinder Nagar, R.K. Puram, Moti Nagar, Malviya Nagar, Greater Kailash and Delhi Cantonment.

Sitting MP and Congress candidate Ajay Maken has a new supporter. “The Congress has done a lot of development work in Delhi but at the same time food prices have increased under them. Still I will go with them,” said 25-year-old Sonali Bhambri, a resident of Lajpat Nagar, which was earlier in the south Delhi constituency but is now the part of New Delhi.

The East Delhi constituency has lost a large aea to the new Northeast Delhi constituency but has been given two assembly segments on the right bank of the Yamuna river - Okhla and Jangpura.

Sitting MP and Congress candidate Sandeep Dikshit said: “I am focussing my energies here,” in Okhla and Jangpura.

“Earlier I was a voter in East Delhi and I voted for Sandeep Dikshit. But this time I will vote for the BJP as I don’t like the Congress candidate from my area,” said Dilshad Garden resident Nupur Thapliyal, 25, who is in media operations. The Congress candidate in Northeast Delhi is J.P. Agarwal.

There was once a huge constituency called Outer Delhi, with 3.36 million voters in 2004. Now its voters have been split into South Delhi, West Delhi and Northwest Delhi constituencies.

The result is that now South Delhi has many more rural than urban voters.

“Whether Outer Delhi or South Delhi, I don’t care. The only things I am concerned with are water, power and increasing prices. I will vote for a party which can take strong and quick decisions,” said Badarpur resident Nitin Singhal.

West Delhi is a new constituency that has a rural Jat population and a large urban Punjabi population too.

“Last time I voted for the BJP’s Vijay Kumar Malhotra (in South Delhi) as he is a candidate with a clean image and he really works for the people. Similar is the case with (Jagdish) Mukhi. So, I will vote for him,” Janakpuri resident Shikha Sharma said. Mukhi is the BJP candidate.

The capital’s only seat reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates is Northwest Delhi. Both the Congress and the BJP have women candidates here. Narela resident Lajjo Devi said: “All these politicians come here at the time of the polls. The rest of the time we’re left alone to tackle water and power shortages and struggle through bad roads.”

(Mayank Aggarwal can be contacted at mayank.a@ians.in)

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