New Delhi Lok Sabha seat heads for exciting contest

New Delhi Lok Sabha seat heads for exciting contest

New Delhi Lok Sabha seat heads for exciting contest

The New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency – of high density middle class neighbourhoods, several upscale colonies and slums – is gearing up for an exciting electoral contest.

The two-time MP and Congress party in-charge of communication Ajay Maken is up against BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi and AAP’s Ashish Khetan, an investigative journalist.

In the December 2013 elections, AAP had swept seven of the 10 Assembly seats in this Lok Sabha constituency. BJP won the remaining three seats. Every incumbent Congress MLA of the area, including three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who lost to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal by a margin of over 25,000 votes – were obliterated.

But with eroding middle class support since the Assembly elections in December, many critics argue that AAP is losing out to its opponent. BJP candidate Lekhi is trying to capitalise on the “Modi wave”.

Most of her campaign tweets end with the hashtags ‘Namo4Delhi’ and ‘LekhiForDelhi’. This constituency was once a BJP stronghold, represented by L K Advani (1989-92) and Jagmohan (1996-2004). But the late actor-turned-politician Rajesh Khanna (1992-1996) had a one-term stint on a Congress ticket.

In 2004, Jagmohan lost to Maken and the Congress leader has been two-time MP since then. He also went on to become a Union minister and Congress general secretary. 

Party insiders say that Maken’s candidature was decided after the party primaries.

Maken’s rivals accuse him of neglecting slum clusters and urban villages. “In urban villages like Munirka and Kotla, sewage is a major problem. Maken, however, spent Rs 150 crore on sewage in Defence Colony,” AAP candidate Khetan said, arguing that development has been lopsided in New Delhi constituency.

Lekhi in a press statement said, “Delhi under Congress rule has only received superfluous infrastructure.

In fact, Maken’s MPLAD funds remain unspent even at the end of five years. But the people of New Delhi do not have basic necessities such as housing, sanitation and water supply.” In a constituency where slums exist next to every posh colony, it has the potential of swaying the electoral outcome.

The poor housing facilities for government employees in areas like Moti Bagh, Sarojini Nagar and Gole Market has also emerged as an election issue.

National issues such as inflation and corruption could be a decisive factor in areas like Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh, Kalkaji, Rajinder Nagar and Malviya Nagar, where a large number of people displaced by the Partition live.

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