LS Polls | Constituency Profile: East Delhi

LS Polls | Constituency Profile: East Delhi

Cricketer, Oxford grad, veteran on East Delhi platter

Drive just 10 km from Parliament's gate towards the east and cross the Yamuna to enter East Delhi where a cricketer, an Oxford graduate and a seasoned politician are lock horns for a seat in Lok Sabha.

Oxford graduate and credited for steering education reforms in Delhi, AAP's Atishi is in an intense electoral battle East Delhi constituency with BJP's cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir and Congress' former minister Arvinder Singh Lovely.

The constituency is the exact opposite of what one sees in Lutyens' Delhi where the VVIPs live – slums, open drains, crowded roads, unauthorised colonies, water scarcity and parking space problems. Name any inconvenience in a metro, one would find it in its abundance in east Delhi.

One of the challenges before the winner would be to address these concerns and they do accept it as a challenge.

The East Delhi seat was captured by BJP in 2014 through Maheish Girri, who was replaced by Gambhir this time when he defeated AAP's Rajmohan Gandhi by 1.9 lakh votes. Sitting MP Sandeep Dikshit had slipped to the third position. In 2004 too, Congress had won this seat.

With 20.43 lakh voters eligible to vote, the battle is intense and BJP is hoping that it could manage due to the division of anti-BJP votes. The collapse of alliance talks between AAP and Congress was a relief to them but the two Opposition parties are confident they will ride through.

While BJP is confident of retaining its core vote base, the question is about how will be around how 15-16% each of Muslims and Dalits vote. Both AAP and Congress are trying to woo them.

Atishi had the first mover advantage as AAP had sounded out the voters for almost one year that she would be their candidate. However, the names of Lovely, who had represented Gandhi Nagar in east Delhi in the Assembly thrice, and Gambhir were announced at the last minute.

If one listens to the campaign rhetoric, one may believe that the fight is between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Atishi highlights the Kejriwal government's achievements in the past four-and-half years, especially in education, power, water and health sectors. She believes BJP is her opponent and that “Congress' third position is assured”.

While dismissing Congress, she seeks to ball bouncers and yorkers at Gambhir by filing a criminal complaint in court accusing him of possessing two voter ID cards and daring him for a debate.

If one listens to Gambhir, his campaign oscillates between the parking problem to Pakistan. Nationalism and Modi are high on his campaign agenda while he correctly identifies the parking issue as one of the most important problems like other candidates. He believes AAP is just selling a dream and Congress is irrelevant.

Lovely is banking on the 15-year rule of Dikshit when she ushered in development projects. “I am from east Delhi only and not like the other political tourists,” he said.

His publicity material includes what he did as a minister in Dikshit campaign and especially on what he did as Education Minister in a bid to counter Atishi.

2019 prominent candidates

Atishi – AAP

Arvinder Singh Lovely – Congress

Gautam Gambhir – BJP

2014 Elections

Maheish Girri – BJP – 5.72 lakh votes

Rajmohan Gandhi – AAP – 3.81 lakh votes

Sandeep Dikshit – Congress – 2.03 lakh votes

MARGIN – 1.90 lakh votes