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North East Delhi LS Seat: New Constituency Marred By Old Issues

Apart from Mustafabad, which elected a BJP candidate, all other Assembly seats were won by the AAP in 2015

Wednesday May 8, 2019 6:29 PM, Nivedita Singh, IANS

North East Delhi Lok Sabha 2019

New Delhi: A comparatively new Lok Sabha constituency, North East Delhi has big names in the race including actor-turned-politician and sitting MP Manoj Tiwari and three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, while bad roads, overflowing drains and piled up trash remained top concerns for the residents. Also contesting is AAP leader Dilip Pandey, making it a triangular fight.

Having an electoral of 22,90,492, the constituency, formed in 2008, is one of the most populated regions of Delhi and where 'Poorvanchalis' -- people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- and those from Uttarakhand live in large numbers.

In 2009, when the Congress formed the government at the Centre, the constituency voted for Congress' Jai Prakash Agarwal. In 2014, amid the Modi wave, it elected BJP's Tiwari.

North East Delhi comprises ten Assembly constituencies - Burari, Timarpur, Seemapuri, Rohtas Nagar, Seelampur, Ghonda, Babarpur, Gokalpur, Mustafabad and Karawal Nagar. Apart from Mustafabad, which elected a BJP candidate, all other Assembly seats were won by the AAP in 2015.

While the constituency -- formed with a major chunk of the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat -- is relatively new, the issues here are old.

'Hardly Any Development'

Comprising about 300 unauthorised colonies and 50 slum clusters, people in this constituency are up against poor roads, lack of proper sanitation, dysfunctional street lights and irregular water supply.

Ramesh Yadav, 50, who migrated to Delhi in early 90s in search of better employment, said the city had seen an upliftment in the last three decades but the area remained quite the same.

"In 1990s, development of the city started. The entire city had a facelift, barring North East Delhi. Hardly any development took place here. The drains are overflowing, roads are covered with trash and congested," said the Karawal Nagar resident.

Pappu Singh, who runs a small shop in Burari, termed traffic congestion as a major issue.

"One cannot imagine coming here with a car. Public transport is also bad. The people here are stuck in a vicious cycle. Every election, politicians make big promises. I am here for the past 12 years, nothing has improved. On the contrary, it is becoming worse day-by-day."

For Manisha Mishra, a housewife, lack of sanitation and roadside garbage heaps are the biggest problems.

"The streets are full of garbage. This is a major cause of health issues in the area. No one is bothered about the condition in which we live."

While the illegal colonies remain a challenge for the authorities, the political parties see us only as a vote bank, she added.

Open drains, poor water quality, lack of security on roads are also key concerns but most residents don't expect much to change.

First-time voter Neha Jha, 22, calls the area an "embarrassment" for the city.

"I feel ashamed telling my college friends that I am from this part of the city. This is just an embarrassment for the city. The government does not consider us a part. I am urging people to vote for NOTA. What is the point of electing a person if he cannot bring improvement?" she said.

The BJP, which rules the Centre and controls the MCD, and the AAP, which governs the city, are blaming each other for the mess.

While the two male candidates are playing the 'purvanchali' card -- both hail from Uttar Pradesh -- Dikshit leans on her tenure as the Chief Minister.

All the three candidates hold masters degree.

Among the 24 candidates in the fray, Dikshit is the only female and, if elected, she will be the first women MP from the seat.

In 2014, Tiwari got 596,125 votes (45.38 per cent) of the total of 13,13,514 votes. AAP's Anand Kumar came second with 452,041 votes (34 per cent) and Congress' Jai Prakash Agarwal third with 214,792 votes (16.35 per cent).

As per the 2011 Census, the population density of the area is 36,155 persons per square km -- the highest in Delhi.

The constituency will vote on May 12 along with the six other Lok Sabha seats in Delhi.

(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at nivedita.singh@gmail.com)

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