Kejri's constituency retains soft spot for muffler man

Kejri's constituency retains soft spot for muffler man

As three bicycles sped past the outer circle of Connaught Place around 1.45 pm on Wednesday, the spirits of the riders — with white caps on — would mildly remind one of the mood in the same area on the verdict day of the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections.

“Jeetenge bhai jeetenge, Kejriwal jeetenge,” shouted the AAP workers as onlookers cheered.
Looking up from fixing a pair of shoes, 63-year-old Udeshi said, “This man has courage. For slum dwellers like us, he is the only hope.” A resident of a slum cluster in Kali Bari Marg, three votes in his family will go to the AAP, he added.

In the high-profile New Delhi constituency, where AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had defeated former chief minister Sheila Dikshit in the previous Assembly elections, the area is abuzz with discussion on politics. Kejriwal had defeated Dikshit by a margin of 25,864 votes. Of the total electorate of 1,24,035, there was a turn out of 65.95 per cent. Vijender Gupta of the BJP was in the third position. Earlier, the area was a Congress stronghold with Dikshit defeating the BJP during the 2008 elections.

“Kejriwal is the only choice in this constituency. Who else can we vote for from this area?” said Praful, a Tilak Marg resident. While the Congress has fielded former Delhi minister Kiran Walia from the seat, debutante Nupur Sharma will fighting on a BJP ticket.

With Kejriwal having held mohalla sabhas in his constituency in the past, residents of the areas in and around Kali Bari Marg, Mandir Marg, Hanuman Road and Bengali Market said he is the “only known face”.
Even though most voters said the overall contest would be stiff, they dismissed the BJP candidate as “inexperienced”.

“I have grown up in this area. This is home to me. Why should I be nervous fighting the polls from this seat?” said Sharma. The Congress, meanwhile, is relying on Walia’s past experiences as a state minister to reclaim the middle-class votes.

“The Congress is finished. From speaking to people what I have understood is people do not even want to give the party another chance because its leaders have been in power for years now. Voters have felt deceived when Kejriwal quit the government, but they are willing to give him one more chance,” said Nazim, who works as a security guard.

The problems faced by the middle class in the constituency are almost the same as in other areas in the city.

“Like almost everybody else we want cheaper rates for electricity and water. And at this point it seems only Kejriwal can deliver on it,” said Sanjay Gupta, a resident of Paharganj.
In Valmiki Sadan — from where Modi launched his Swachh Bharat campaign — poor water supply, garbage strewn across the road and the neglected parks say that little has changed since.

“Most people here are anti-Modi government because he is not pro-poor. Our faith in Kejriwal has been shaken too. It is difficult to decide this time,” said an elderly woman.

With this constituency housing several important markets, traders are clear on the changes that want to be implemented first. Parking is a major issue in the nodal markets — Khan Market, Sarojini Nagar and Connaught Place. Though the situation has somewhat improved in Connaught Place, the other two markets are in perennial state of chaos. Rehabilitation of vendors in Sarojini Nagar and Palika Bazaar has also been in the pipeline for years now without the issue being resolved.

“The redevelopment plan of Sarojini Nagar market has been in the pipeline for quite some time now. The building is over 50 years old and building modifications, among other cosmetic modifications, are required urgently. Parking remains the other major issue. The multi-level parking outside the market has remained underutilised,” said Pramod Sharma, president of Sarojini Nagar Traders Association and a resident of Sarojini Nagar. 

For some, voting will be a “calculated exercise”.

“Information is now only a click away. I did not vote during the 2013 elections. So this weekend, I am going to sit through and look up the work done by the three major parties in this constituency,” said Yogen, a resident of Man Singh Road. “I will also check if the leaders have corruption cases against them. Only then, I will take a call,” added the flower boutique owner.