Is Delhi a definite win for Congress?

Posted on May 1, 2009 in Politics

Parul Sabherwal

Now that the time when people of DELHI come to vote for the general elections 2009 in the fourth phase on 7th may 2009 has come, a number of quantitative as well as qualitative analysis’ are being done throughout the country on what would be the result of this important state.

Suddenly the so called ‘aam aadmi’ or by definition the person living in the
‘jhhuggi jhhopri’ areas of Delhi has become very important factor in these elections.
Both the important parties- Congress and BJP are trying to deal with the issues that effect this section of the society.
The top leaders of both the parties whether it is Sonia Gandhi, L.K. Advani, Kapil Sibbal, Arun Jaitley, Rahul Gandhi, or any such leader, is making it a point to visit at least one constituency and promise to solve their problems as soon as they come to power.

Till today Delhi’s progress was measured in terms of developments such as the Metro rail, the air-conditioned buses, increasing number of flyovers, Commonwealth games etc. and not the basic issues and the needs of the people living in these “not so posh” colonies.
Shiela Dixit’s government in the past years has made an effort to understand and then overcome the problems of housing, water supply etc. in these colonies, where almost 50% of Delhi population exists.

It was, in my opinion, the primary reason behind the emphatic win of the congress in the Delhi Assembly elections in December last year.
The development plank on which the Bharatiya Janata Party a.k.a BJP tried to win Delhi has made them learn their lesson by losing the Assembly elections.

The Delhi BJP Chief Mr. O.P. Kohli recently made a very valid statement saying, “despite the claim of the government that the prices have gone down and the inflation rate has declined to 0.26%, the prices of food items have gone up by 17%. Food grains have become costlier by 9.61%, pulses by 8.46%, milk by 6.22%, fruits by 8.02%, even the prices of salt have gone up by 11% and we would advise people of Delhi to vote against such a government.”

Now the attitude of the BJP has also changed, they are also not relying on the middle class voters, traders, shopkeepers etc.
An important trend seen in Delhi is that local issues, more importantly the bread and butter issues are of more importance than national issues like terrorism or national leadership.
In my opinion nobody except the few educated middle class people would accept the fact that only a ‘mazboot neta can provide a nirnayak sarkar’ and only a person with the leadership qualities like Mr.L.K. Advani can help a nation progress.

This trend in Delhi can be easily explained because of the increase in the density of the population living in the slums. Almost about 60% of Delhi’s population consists of members of the Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Caste, Poorvanchalis and Gujjars. In the 2004 general elections the congress won 6 out of the 7 seats where these are the prominent sections. The party only lost the posh South Delhi seat to BJP’s Vijay Kumar
Malhotra, so now the BJP might try to win the votes of the underprivileged.

Muslims and Jats together make up around 22% of the population, and the congress supposedly has the support of these two groups as well.
Punjabis, Sikhs and the government employees form the other major part of the population and their preference is divided amongst the two parties evenly.

BSP, the only party other than the Congress with a considerable influence on this section is emerging as a key player in the Delhi politics. Continuing with its model of social changes, the BSP has put forward 3 Muslim, 2 Brahmins, 1 Gujjar and 1 Schedule Caste candidate.

The congress has a lot of advantage due to the presence of many known faces and the virtual absence of the anti- incumbency factor. But the Sikh agitation, which resulted in the withdrawal of the candidatures of Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar could effect a little. The issue brought back the memories of the 1984 anti Sikh riots but no charge has been proven as yet.


3 constituencies this time throw some interesting battles and possibilities.

In the West Delhi, the congress decided to put forward a Poorvanchali candidate and 3 an MLA for three terms Mahabal Mishra to take on Jagdish Mukhi of BJP. About 45 % of the population of this region consists of Punjabi Hindus, Sikhs, other urban voters who would definitely vote for the Punjabi himself. Mishra would be surprised if he gets the Jat votes.

Chandani Ckowk has unpredictable prospects. Here, Kapil Sibbal is standing against the Chairman of the standing committee of the MCD Vijendra Gupta of BJP and the people are already blaming Kapil Sibbal for neglecting his constituency.

In the North-East Delhi constituency, the BJP candidate B.L. Sharma Prem is widely known to be a Hindutva ideologist and an RSS member. His ideas of holding drawing room meetings for his campaigning have made him popular amongst the people as well as the media to a very large extent.

One can easily say that though after a 15 year rule of the Congress party in Delhi and the win in the Assembly elections in December clearly showed that Delhi can be called a pro Congress state and the Congress enjoys an edge but the change of strategy by the BJP could definitely throw up some surprises.
It is just a situation of ‘wait and watch’ in Delhi…