Designer, driver, policeman - first timers dive into Delhi polls

November 25th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) For one contender, joining the Delhi poll fray was a matter of women’s empowerment, for another it was rooted in anger against the civic authorities, for yet another it was a natural career choice at this point in his life.Spurred as they were by varied personal reasons, the many first timers in the Nov 29 Delhi assembly elections - among them a fashion designer, an autorickshaw driver, a businessman, a former police officer - are a motivated lot, promising to take up public causes that matter.

“When my store was sealed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), I decided that I will fight for my right,” fashion designer Neelam Saxena told IANS.

She is considered to be one of the few designers doing chic men’s wear, but she decided to switch gears and contest elections on the Samajwadi Party ticket after her shop in the upmarket Greater Kailash (GK) II market was sealed by the civic authorities as part of a larger drive against commercial establishments in residental areas.

“In all other places, the government tries and encourages its citizens to progress, but not here. Here they take away your livelihood,” Saxena, who has showcased her collection several times in the fashion weeks, told IANS.

“Therefore, I decided that I will battle for my right and urge people to support me so that they are not alone to fight theirs,” she said.

Saxena, who says it was the Samajwadi Party which approached her to stand for the elections, said with all the campaigning in Greater Kailash - which is her constituency - there is very little time left for her first love, fashion.

Unlike Saxena, Sunita Chaudhary, a member of the National Panthers Party, said she would not abandon her profession - that of an autorickshaw driver - to contest elections.

“Why should I leave driving the auto? I am in fact campaigning in my auto, telling people that I am one of them and understand their problems. Therefore, I will serve them better,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Chaudhary said she was all for more women’s empowerment.

“I have been conducting free classes for women who want to learn how to drive an auto. I had written to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit asking for help to conduct bigger camps, but got no response.

“If I win, women’s empowerment will be topmost on my agenda. Inflation, which is making commodities inaccessible for the common man, will also be an important issue,” Chaudhary said.

For B.M. Upreti, an independent candidate from the New Delhi constituency who has a tent business, it’s the issues of his fellow people from Uttarakhand in Delhi which urged him to take the decision to contest the Delhi assembly elections.

“About 10-15 percent of Delhi’s population comprise people from Uttarakhand, and whenever any party gives the ticket to an Uttarakhandi, there are maximum chances for him to win.

“Yet the parties hesitate to give the ticket to an Uttarakhandi. Frustrated, I resigned from the Congress because of this and after being urged by people who said they would support me, I decided to stand for the elections by myself,” Upreti said.

For police officer-turned-activist-turned politician Amod Kanth who will be contesting from Sangam Vihar on the Congress ticket, this has been a “logical and gradual growth”.

Having served the Indian Police Service for 33 years after joining it back in 1974, Kanth told IANS: “There will be no change in my attitude towards problems, people and my role as an agent of change.”

Asked which issues were closest to his heart, 61-year-old Kanth said: “Providing basic amenities to people in Sangam Vihar would be my greatest priority. The area lacks roads, water, sewage, education and health facilities. Migrants residing there are a hardworking lot but do not get their share of respect and minimum facilities.”

He has also been working for the welfare of children and women through his NGO, Prayas, and Kanth said they would remain his priority.

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