New Delhi, The electoral landscape of Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections may be dotted with political heavyweights and celebrities fielded by BJP and Congress but in the three-cornered contest in the National capital in the seven Parliamentary seats, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party feels that it has an edge over mainstream parties due to its people-centric policies and its record of clean governance.
Notwithstanding the presence in fray of political heavyweights and celebrities from the BJP and the Congress, AAP leaders say that political pundits are underestimating AAP in Delhi just because BJP and Congress have fielded celebrities and heavyweight politicians.
In this context, they point out that celebrities like Shatrughan Sinha, Rajesh Khanna, Smriti Irani, Manmohan Singh and Shiela Dixit lost elections in Delhi.
‘Delhi votes for parties not celebrities or heavyweight politicians,’ says an AAP leader.They point out the huge turnout to the roadshow carried out by AAP candidates from various constituencies before filing their nominations.
Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk, Raghav Chadha from South Delhi, Atishi from East Delhi, Brijesh Goyal from New Delhi, Dilip Pandey from North East Delhi and Gugan Singh from North West Delhi on Monday filed their nominations after holding roadshows in their respective constituencies.
AAP workers feel that under leadership of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal , the party will win three to seven seats in Delhi.’AAP has done a lot of work in Delhi and we will win at least four to five seats,’ a party worker said.
A look at the vote share of the three parties in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the 2017 elections to the three Municipal corporations may make the BJP a clear favorite over the Congress and AAP but AAP leaders say the ground realities show it in an advantageous position in these elections.
They feel that for the average Delhiite and common man, factors like clean governance, fast delivery of services and provision of basic facilities like electricity, water, health and education play an important role in choosing their representative in Parliament.
They feel that for the middle class and the lower middle class, the measures taken by the AAP government, led by Arvind Kejriwal, like providing electricity at half rates for those consuming up to 200 units per month, providing free water up to 20000 ML per month, introduction of online delivery of services , starting of Mohalla clinics, improving the condition in government schools and reining in fees charged by private schools, have provided a lot of relief in their day to day existence .
They say measures taken by the AAP government have made life a lot easier for people.
‘Earlier, people used to get a monthly electricity bill up to Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000. However, after the AAP came to power, the Bills have drastically come down to as low as Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per month,’ Ramesh, an AAP leader in south Delhi says.
They feel that the Mohalla clinic initiative by the AAP government has provided health facilities to people at their doorstep and that too at nominal rates.
Earlier, after visiting the OPD in a government hospital, one had to spend a lot of money on buying the medicines prescribed by the doctor as most of the times the medicines were not available in Medical stores there. However, after a recent visit to a nearby Mohalla clinic, I was pleasantly surprised that they also provided the medicines free of costs.
Also, the doctors at the clinics are specialists who tend to get to the depth of your medical problems. Many middle class parents are happy that the Delhi government has succeeded in reining in the private schools who were earlier charging exorbitant money in the name of fees.
The critics of AAP , however feel that the garbage on the streets has increased after they came to power.
‘Arvind Kejriwal has turned Delhi into a jhughi cluster. Wherever one goes, one finds filth and garbage scattered all over,’says Ramesh a local BJP worker in Paschim Bihar..
Many are also unhappy over the deterioration of the public transport system in Delhi during this government. Congress leaders say that the DTC fleet strength saw a sizeable increase during the previous Sheila Dikshit government in the state.
Many of the persons still fondly remembered those days which saw a huge development of Delhi -Building of flyover, expansion of the Delhi Metro network and building of several sports and infrastructure facilities.
‘One saw a rapid infrastructural development during the Congress regime , something which has not been seen during the present regime,’ says Lalit, a local Congress worker in east Delhi, the constitutency of deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
The workers of the Congress and the BJP say many of the promises he made in 2015 assembly elections remain unfulfilled.AAP, however has attributed it to the lack of support from the BJP government at the Centre who they claim have been blocking several of AAP government proposals from time to time be it online delivery of services or Mohalla clinics.
On the littering of garbage on streets, the AAP has attributed it to the lack of cooperation from the MCD governments where the BJP is in a majority.The AAP leaders say their government has ensured that people from middle class and lower middle class lead a dignified life.
The Kejriwal government halving electricity bills, providing free water up to 20000 ML per month and revamping government schools has ensured that people like these are able to lead a dignified life, they say.
While the Sheila Dikshit government uprooted ‘jhuggis of the poor’, the AAP government provided succour to them.
On Congress and BJP fielding heavyweights and celebrities, the AAP leaders say that for most of these people, the presence of celebrities or political heavyweights like Sheila Dikshit, Mahabal Mishra, J P Agarwal, Meenakshi Lekhi, Gautam Gambhir or Hans Raj Hans does not matter as for them leading a convenient life is important.
While the Congress has fielded Ajay Maken from New Delhi, former Delhi Congress chief Jai Prakash Agarwal is contesting from Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat in Delhi while former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been fielded in North east Delhi.
Former DPCC chief Aravinder Singh Lovely is contesting from East Delhi and Mahabal Misra has been fielded from his traditional west Delhi Lok Sabha seat.
From the North west Delhi -SC seat, the party has fielded Rajesh Lilothia while in South Delhi, it has fielded boxer Vijender Singh.
The BJP has fielded Gautam Gambhir from East Delhi, Meenakshi Lekhi from New Delhi, Singer Hans Raj Hans from North west Delhi, Manoj Tiwari from North east Delhi, Ramesh Budhuri from South Delhi , Parvesh Verma from West Delhi and Dr Harshvardhan from Chandni chowk.
Efforts between the Congress and AAP to forge an alliance in Delhi failed to materialise, making the contest in Delhi a three-cornered fight.
While political observers feel that in an absence of a tie up between the Congress and AAP, the advantage would lie with the BJP given the fact that in the 2017 MCD elections, The BJP , with a vote share of over 30 per cent, secured a majority in the three Municipal corporations, while the AAP was second with vote share of 26 per cent and Congress was third with 21 per cent vote.
AAP leaders, however, feel that in a three-cornered contest, a sizeable chunk of the Congress voters would opt for the AAP something which, they point out, happened in the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls where AAP secured an overwhelming majority in the 70 member Assembly, winning 67 seats.
Election to seven Lok Sabha seats are scheduled on May 12.