Parties keen to harvest priceless rural votes

Parties keen to harvest priceless rural votes

They woo village voters in 12 of 70 constituencies

Parties keen to harvest priceless rural votes

They may not be hooked on to the info-highway like others, but voters in Delhi’s rural areas are closely monitoring the pulse of the December 4 Assembly elections.

They are making the political parties go that extra mile to win them over in at least 12 of the 70 constituencies where they are expected to dictate the poll outcome.

Be it the ruling Congress, the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party or the untested third force Aam Aadmi Party, all seem keen to make an impression on the farmers and the village-based communities in the elections that are just 45 days away.

Apart from the villages on the fringes of the city, a substantial number of them are in the heart of urban areas — surrounded by posh colonies and commercial areas that have come up on lands once tilled by the villagers who live here.

Delhi BJP’s senior leader Vijender Gupta said on Sunday, “Villages figure in the party’s top priority.”

 “Waiver of property tax for voters living in rural areas and improvement of roads and transport facilities to connect them with city hubs are important to us,” said Gupta, a former Delhi unit chief.

During the 2010 Commonwealth Games over Rs 76,000 crore was spent in the city but not a penny went to the development of villages. This showed the neglect of rural areas, said Gupta.

Party general secretary Ramesh Bhiduri, a legislator from Tughlaqabad constituency, said, “Acute joblessness among youth from rural families is on the party’s radar and it will address the issue on winning the election.”

The Congress too claims to have done a lot for the rural people during its 15 years of rule in the capital.

“Like all other citizens, villagers too have gained from our policies and remain high on the party’s agenda,” said Congress spokesman Jitender Kochar.

Out of the 12 key village-dominated constituencies, eight are represented by Congress legislators,  three by BJP lawmakers and one by an independent.

The Congress has traditionally been the preferred choice for the rural voters and this fact is reflected by the seats held by its legislators in Okhla, Narela, Mehrauli, Badli, Bawana, Chhatarpur, Rajender Nagar and Matiala.

The BJP rules the roost in Mundka, Bijwasan and Tughlaqabad, while the Najafgarh constituency has sent an independent member to the Assembly.

The AAP, a new entrant in the fray, has also realised the importance of rural voters. Party leader Manish Sisodia said, “The real India lives in villages, how can we overlook them.”

After the crop damage in rains earlier this month,  AAP spearhead Arvind Kejriwal was quick to visit the rural areas and seek adequate compensation for them.

The BJP has also organised panchayat with representatives of 365 villages and held rallies in rural areas.

A villager from Mehrauli in south Delhi was skeptic about any major change in their lives after the elections. “We doubt if the politicians would really care for us after getting elected to the Assembly,” he said.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox