First Daughter looks beyond Bengalis

“Bengalis here will not vote with their sentiments. They will keep the bigger picture in mind,” says S R Dutta, who runs an eatery at Chittaranjan Park Market 2.

With Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee being fielded as the Congress candidate from Greater Kailash constituency, the buzz in CR Park, which houses a significant Bengali population is whether the community will vote “collectively”. 

But most agree that the Bengali factor will not work. “This is also because she is not a known face here. She has not met us yet,” says Dutta.

From what can be gauged from the regular adda sessions in the markets, he adds, people will choose the “candidate over the party”.

The seat has attracted attention after Mukherjee’s candidature. The constituency is an interesting mix of people across all socio-economic backgrounds from GK-I, GK-II, CR Park, Sant Nagar, Chirag Dilli and Zamrudpur. 

Residents from the lower socio-economic background want better roads, better quality of drinking water and proper sewer lines. 

“Our living conditions have not improved for the past many years now. We don’t have high hopes,” says Ashok, a resident of Chirag Dilli village. 

In the posher areas, parking space, water supply and traffic congestion are the major issues that residents want their local leaders to deliver on.

BJP’s candidate Rakesh Gullaiya says resolving these three issues will be first on the list if he comes to power. “I have already identified these three issues as the major problems of the constituency. My wife is currently a councillor and I have been a councillor before. We know the issues of the constituency thoroughly.” 

Gullaiya will start on padyatras from Sunday. So far, he has been meeting people in smaller groups. “I am confident of bagging votes from across communities,” he adds.

BJP workers in the area are meeting residents in the area and passing on the response to the party’s the top leaders through WhatsApp groups. The groups believe in “door-to-door visits” in which they also note down the profile of the voters. The response is reviewed every evening.

“This strategy has helped. Not all of us were associated with the BJP earlier. But the one-to-one interactions has helped people understand what the BJP is about.
Earlier, more people were leaning towards the AAP. But gradually voters in this constituency are convinced about the BJP too,” says J K Goswami, a resident of CR Park. “But the AAP is still on firm ground here,” he adds.

During the 2013 Assembly elections, AAP candidate Saurabh Bhardwaj had defeated BJP’s Ajay Kumar Malhotra by a margin of 13,092 votes. According to voters, Bhardwaj has delivered well.

“The list of problems faced by residents in the area will never end. But Bhardwaj is approachable. He has also significantly delivered in the area,” says Shyamal Dutta.  Asked if voters fear Kejriwal’s government will be unstable, Dutta says, “He should be forgiven for one mistake. My hope only rests with AAP.” 

Congress candidate Sharmistha Mukherjee, however, believes that AAP is not a strong contender in the area anymore. “People have lost faith in the AAP.” If elected, she plans to introduce garbage disposal system in the area which she says was suggested by the residents themselves.

Bhardwaj’s formula will be the same this time — women’s security, better electricity and water supply. Among his ambitious plans is making the entire stretch of GK a Wi-Fi zone.

Rekha Singh, who now stays in Sydney, believes AAP should be given a chance. But she has not ruled out voting for the BJP either. “It is a tough call. I am staying back in Delhi till the elections. My heart goes out for AAP,” says the GK-II resident.

M Taneja, a resident of upscale GK-II, is disillusioned about the polls. “Look at the areas here. I have come to believe any kind of change is good — even the bad one.”

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