New Delhi, May 10 (GCCurrentAffairs) A decade ago, she scripted history when she steered the Congress to power in Delhi thrice, becoming the first woman in the country to serve three consecutive terms as Chief Minister.
As veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit gets ready to test her electoral fortunes in North East Delhi Parliamentary Constituency, the political situation in Delhi is vastly different from 2008 with odds heavily stacked against the Congress.
Once considered an impregnable fort of the Congress, Delhi has over the last one decade seen the grand-old party lose a lot of ground and today, it is considered an ‘also ran’ player in Delhi politics with the main contest considered to be between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Ms Dikshit, who is locked in a tri-cornered contest with Manoj Tiwari of the BJP and Deepak Pandey of the AAP for the seat, is, however, confident of winning from here based on her record as three-time Chief Minister.
Political pundits may not give her a chance in the contest that they feel is essentially between the BJP and AAP but Congress leaders feel she is the strongest candidate among the three who are in fray.
Congress leaders feel her record as Chief Minister of Delhi from 1998 to 2013, a period which saw an all round development of the city, gives her an edge over the candidates of the other two parties.
Says a local Congress leader, ‘watching her reminds people of the huge development that Delhi saw during the period between 1998 and 2013, including the seamless conversion of the public transport fleet from diesel operated vehicles to the CNG operated ones, building of several flyovers, development of a wide electricity network in the city and rapid expansion of the Delhi Metro network in the City.
About the BJP candidate Manoj Tiwari, they say that in the last five years, he has not visited his constituency more than a few times.
In fact, the local residents of the area say that in the last five years, Mr Tiwari has visited his constituency just three or four times.
Locals lament the lack of attention to the roads in the area, which they say are in an extremely poor conditions.
They also bemoan the poor state of cleanliness in the area.
Another reason for the Congress being hopeful is the electorate of North east Delhi comprises of nearly 23 per cent minorities.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the community had shifted its loyalty towards AAP.
However, with Ms Dikshit leading the party in Delhi, the Congress is hopeful of winning back a major chunk of these voters.
The Congress is also hoping to draw towards it a large section of the migrants of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who form a sizeable section of the electorate of the area.
Mr Tiwari is, however, hopeful of winning the support of the people of the area on the basis of the work done by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre as well as riding on the charisma of Mr Modi.
‘There is a strong Modi wave in Delhi this time as well,’ says a local BJP leader.
The third element in the contest, AAP’s Deepak Pandey is hoping to win the support of the people based on the work done by the AAP Government in Delhi over the last four-and-a-half years, especially that in the education and health sectors.
A number of people in the constituency laud the AAP government’s works in education and health sectors in the National Capital.
‘We are happy at the work done by the AAP Government in Delhi. They have improved the condition of government schools and have also set up Mohalla clinics,’ Ramesh Pant, a local said.
According to the chief electoral office, there are around 22.89 lakh electorate in the North-East Lok Sabha constituency, and of these, nearly 12.52 lakh are male voters while there are over 10.37 lakh female voters.
North East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency comprises the assembly segments of Burari, Timarpur, Seemapuri, Rohtas Nagar, Seelampur, Ghonda, Babarpur, Gokalpur, Mustafabadand Karawal Nagar.
This constituency came into existence in 2008 as a part of the implementation of the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission of India constituted in 2002.
While in 2009, J P Aggarwal of the Congress won the seat from B L Sharma (Prem) of the BJP with a margin of over 2 lakh votes, in the 2014 elections, Mr Tiwari of the BJP won the seat by over one lakh votes against Anand Kumar of the AAP with Mr Aggarwal at the third position.