Will Chandni Chowk express its anger on GST, DeMo?

Will Chandni Chowk express its anger on GST, DeMo?

Chandni Chowk is the heart of Old Delhi, and a big fight is here on to win the heartbeats of traders and Muslims in this Lok Sabha elections.

Union Minister Harsh Vardhan is once again in the race waving the BJP flag while the Congress has fielded its warhorse Jai Prakash Aggarwal while the AAP has fielded Pankaj Gupta, a software engineer who quit his job to join politics and is fighting the elections for the first time.

Several say Gupta is edged out of the contest after Aggarwal's entry in the last minute though the latter's name was initially speculated to be from North East Delhi where Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit is contesting.

This is one seat, the smallest in the capital with 15.61 lakh voters, where there is a large chunk of voters who are affected by both the contentious exercises of demonetisation and Goods and Service Tax (GST). The sealing drive against commercial establishments in residential areas just adds to this.

The BJP believes that the trading community, who usually support it, will not desert them this time. Nationalism and strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are the additional issues.

The issue of sealing, BJP leaders claim, won't affect them. They claim that the BJP has done its best to help the traders, to address the woes related to sealing. However, the BJP banks heavily on Modi in the campaigning.

“You see the only issue with the people is that they want Modi back as Prime Minister. They are convinced that Modi is the one who can really help people and solve their problems,” Vardhan told DH recently.

However, Aggarwal does not buy any of these. Making it clear to voters that both Vardhan and Gupta are “outsiders” and he belongs to the place, he believes sealing, GST and demonetisation would have an impact in the constituency which has some 18% Vaishya (traders) voters.

Aggarwal targets the BJP for the GST and demonetisation while he targets both AAP and BJP for the sealing drive.

The Congress banks on Muslim voters, who it believes are returning to the party. Muslims with 14% votes and scheduled castes with 16% votes form a good chunk of voters and both Congress and AAP eye these constituents.

For AAP, there are troubles as their Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba has not campaigned for Gupta citing her differences with the party. Another issue staring at AAP is that Gupta is lightweight compared to Vardhan and Aggarwal.

Congress is trying to ensure that Muslim votes are not split. The minority community members said that they would vote for the candidate who can defeat BJP while indicating that Aggarwal is their choice.

Fact file

2014 elections

Harsh Vardhan (BJP) – 4.37 lakh votes
Ashutosh (AAP) – 3.01 lakh votes
Kapil Sibal (Congress) – 1.76 lakh votes
Margin – 1.36 lakh

2019 Elections
Harsh Vardhan (BJP)
Jai Prakash Aggarwal (Congress)
Pankaj Gupta (AAP)

Voters – 15.61 lakh