Kathputli Colony goes anti-Cong

AAP, BJP gain from residents' opposition to rehabilitation plan

 At the controversy-ridden puppeteers Kathputli Colony in New Delhi constituency, many voters exercised their franchise in support of the anti-rehabilitation campaign

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The two first-time contenders, AAP candidate Ashish Khetan and BJP candidate Meenakshi Lekhi, have used the ongoing protest as a major poll plank against the Congress general secretary and sitting MP Ajay Maken.

The Kathputli slum is the first in-situ rehabilitation project of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and many residents in the area have been protesting against their eviction and shifting to a transit camp at Anand Parbat.

Near the polling stations, the local community leaders and elderly residents were constantly ensuring that locals vote for their ‘chosen’ candidate.

And despite the Election Commission guideline to prevent gathering of crowd within the 200-metre radius of polling stations, one of the police officers on election duty said, “It is very difficult to prevent people from gathering in slum areas.”

“It is going good. There is strong anti-Congress sentiment. BJP and AAP are doing well. But BJP has a lead,” said Dilip Bhatt, a local community leader. He said there are nearly 15,000 voters in the area.

Going by the December Delhi Assembly elections, the area is a BJP stronghold.
But AAP candidate Ashish Khetan seems to have made a successful dent by taking on Maken.

He alleged that under Maken’s tenure as the Union Urban Development Minister, the DDA had granted a contract to Raheja Developers for redeveloping the colony on a public-private partnership basis.

Later, Lekhi had jumped the bandwagon and called for an independent investigation revealing the alleged involvement of Maken in the land deal.

AAP worker Ramjan Ali said, “We have stood behind the locals for a long time. The private developer here is cheating people out of their land.”

Away from Kathputli colony, the local residents who have shifted to the transit camp also exercised their franchise.

“We were living in deplorable conditions there while the DDA has provided all basic amenities in the transit camp. At Kathputli, even a small drain overflows with the waste of 50 small drains. A lot of people are now playing politics on the resettlement issue by misguiding locals,” said Devidas Gurdea.

“I wouldn’t disclose whom we voted for. But we are in support of the government,” he added.

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