No tall promises, give us basic amenities: Chandni Chowk’s voters

May 2nd, 2009 - 1:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) In Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest areas in the Indian capital with its cheek-by-jowl houses and crowded markets, women voters are a vocal lot. The pomp and show of rallies and big words of candidates don’t impress them, they say, demanding basic amenities like water and sanitation.

“Promises, promises and more promises. I get water only twice a day, and that too is not clean. Only I know how I manage the household chores, especially in the summers,” Aarti Devi, a housewife in the Sadar Bazar area, told IANS as she watched sitting Congress MP Kapil Sibal’s campaign rally pass by.

Said burqa-clad Sana Ahmed, a homemaker: “We women bear the brunt of any problem. My husband is out for most part of the day on work; therefore, he doesn’t realise the trouble I have to face with power cuts and water shortage. These are the main problems we face here every day.”

The women evidently don’t get carried away by the assurances and claims of candidates, who are busy campaigning for the May 7 Lok Sabha polls in Delhi. Chandni Chowk is one of the seven constituencies in the capital.

Among the major achievements highlighted on Congress candidate and union minister Sibal’s website are projects worth Rs.4.4 million for changing water and sewer lines and setting up water coolers and water purifiers in government-aided schools.

Waving at the crowd and then folding his hands to a polite ‘namaste’ every now and then, Sibal, atop a mini truck on his campaign trail, told IANS: “I have done a lot of ground work for people.

“Be it healthcare, sanitation, education or water. I know the concerns of the people and work towards improving their condition.”

As his trail crosses hundreds of tiny shops on either side of the road in the Sadar Bazar area, people stand watching the fanfare.

In another part of the constituency, rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Vijender Gupta is busy slamming the last five years of Sibal’s work and promises to do much better if voted to power.

Rahim Khan, a cobbler sitting on the roadside, said: “All this is a ritual. When elections are around the corner, the politicians come with their supporters, are eager to meet us and say yes to all that we ask for. Once the elections are over, it’s a different story altogether.”

But when asked what were the issues he would keep in mind while casting his vote, Khan said: “I am happy with the present government.”

Similarly, Harish Kumar, a scrap dealer, said he has “no complaints” with the government. “What can I say? Theek hai…sab kuch chalta hai (It’s ok…whatever),” Kumar said as he dragged along his bicycle laden with bags full of metal scrap.

Men don’t seem to voice the issues that affect them as strongly as women. In fact 56 percent of women voters in the Chandni Chowk constituency - made up of 10 assembly segments - turned up to vote in the last assembly elections in Delhi. There are over 2.1 million voters in the constituency.

Said Sana Ahmad’s mother-in-law: “Till May 7, when the elections will be held, power cuts will not be a problem. But after that we will be left facing power cuts for up to five hours - that has been the trend.”

Sanitation again is a major issue in the area.

“Cleanliness and sanitation is a big issue in most areas of Chandni Chowk. In some of the inner areas, like Ballimaran, the lanes are so narrow that it is difficult for even two people to walk through. On top of that, there are heaps of garbage dumped in the middle of the lane,” said Shaheen Khan, a school teacher.

For many of the women, the vote they cast will be a well thought out decision.

“The present administration has done some good work, but basic amenities are still a far cry in a lot of areas here. I will definitely vote for my demands,” said Khan.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at )

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