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Delhi Election Trail 2015: Day 3

February 3, 2015

Delhi Elections 2015 - Day 3What’s cooking in Delhi’s rural constituencies ahead of elections?

All the major parties contesting the Delhi legislative assembly elections are depending on the constituencies of Mehrauli and Chhattarpur to gain prominence in the rural sections of Delhi. They are looking to exploit the caste factor in these constituencies. Other constituencies such as Tughlaqabad, Bawana, Badarpur, Mundka, Najafgarh and Narela are ones that can assume importance in the days ahead. During the assembly polls, staged in 2013, BJP had done really well in the rural constituencies. However, this time around AAP will try to get some of those seats as well. As of now the rural areas of Delhi are seeing a raging battle between both AAP and BJP. In fact, AAP is fielding a number of candidates who have broken ties with BJP. Congress is presently relegated to fighting for the third spot. There was, however, a time when it was the top name in this constituency.

Located in southwest Delhi, Chhattarpur has a thousand big and small farms and their aggregate worth in the present day market is in thousands of crores. Even though, there is some agricultural land, very few farmers work on that. Most of them earn from the real estate sector by selling their lands. There is also a dense forest that covers a fair amount of distance. This constituency is also well known for its overall income discrepancy. Some people are rather rich – they have farmhouses over here – and there are some local farmers who are pretty wealthy as well. On the other hand, there is a substantial amount of poor people too.

Majority of them struggle to get by. The electorate includes farm workers who are originally from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Life here is pretty laidback and the caste distinctions are pretty strong as well. The senior citizens’ word is the law in most of the villages under this constituency and they also have a significant hold over voting.

All the three parties are fielding Gujjar candidates with the surname Tanwar, which is a wise move considering the predominance of the sect in this part of Delhi. BJP has fielded Brahm Singh Tanwar, who has been winning from Chattarpur for the last 15 years. Kartar Singh Tanwar, who was earlier a BJP Counsellor, will contest this time for AAP. He joined the party just a few days before the polls when he realized BJP was not going to give him a ticket. Balram Singh Tanwar, who was an MLA from the area for a decade, will represent Congress.

There is speculation in some circles that the local people might be interested in giving Kartar Singh a chance considering Brahm Singh and Balram Singh have already governed the area. Devendra Katana, a local leader of BJP, has questioned the justification of giving Kartar Singh a ticket, something which he feels the supporters will not like. Katana also thinks that this decision raises some serious questions regarding the claims of Arvind Kejriwal that AAP is interested in transparent politics. He feels that in the end it will be good for the BJP. He has even gone ahead and stated that Kartar Singh bought his way to an AAP ticket. Kartar allegedly has been offering INR 2000 for each vote.

Katana says that people will now understand that AAP is like just any other political party and they will be defeated by BJP again. AAP leadership has, as is the norm in these cases, dismissed these allegations as baseless rumors and as attempts to give a bad name to AAP. According to them this is only reflective of BJP’s desperation. They feel that since there is no wave of preference for Modi BJP could be soundly defeated.

In the last 15 years there has been some development in Chhattarpur and according to local leaders of Congress, the credit belongs to them and specially Sheila Dikshit, the erstwhile Chief Minister of Delhi. The situation though is not so good for Balram Singh Tanwar since most in his position in Congress have switched to BJP and AAP. This means he does not have some much needed support before the elections.

Some leaders of BJP have also been saying that Kartar Singh could emerge easy winner this time around. However, when Kejriwal came to campaign here people threw lots of tomatoes and rotten eggs at him. He, however, apportioned the blame for the unsavoury incident on BJP. BJP has stated that Kejriwal masterminded the attacks himself so that he could gain some sympathy prior to the elections. In fact, this is a critical seat for BJP, something that is evident in the efforts being put in by Brahm Singh to win.

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