Electorally speaking, the Lok Sabha constituency of North East Delhi is the epicentre of the Lok Sabha poll fight in Delhi. Congress has fielded former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit while BJP Delhi chief and Bhojpuri singer Manoj Tiwari is contesting against her. From the Aam Aadmi Party, the candidate is relatively ordinary: the 38-year-old software engineer-turned politician Dilip Pandey. All three candidates are upper caste Purvanchalis in the constituency which has the highest concentration (close to 45 percent) of Purvanchalis.
Dikshit’s decision to contest has breathed new life into the dying cadre of the Delhi Congress unit, which senior leaders like Ajay Maken and PC Chacko were failing to conserve, let alone develop. But her candidature wasn’t expected till it was announced (two weeks ago) and the Congress didn’t nurture new leaders in the capital. Now, on the strength of the development work done during her three terms, a tall figure like Dikshit is hoping to garner votes.
“All the progress that you have seen in Delhi so far is because of the Congress. The others have been misleading voters in the name of development,” she said, adding that both, the BJP government at the Centre and AAP government in the city, are more interested in their own ‘vikas.’
Meanwhile, both Tiwari and Pandey have been running active campaigns in the constituency. While Tiwari is a sitting MP from North East Delhi and a national-level campaigner for the saffron party, Pandey’s strategy has been to mobilise foot soldiers at the ward-level. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Tiwari got nearly 45 percent of the votes followed by AAP’s 34 percent and Congress’ 16 percent.
However, AAP has completed the construction of the Signature Bridge, which connects the Outer Ring Road on the western bank with the Wazirabad Road on the eastern side of the Yamuna. Its construction began in 2010 but was delayed by five years. The AAP is bringing this up repeatedly in its North East Delhi campaign.
The East-West corridor connects developing areas like Yamuna Vihar and Nand Nagri to the capital and smoothens the movement of inter-state traffic from Ghaziabad, Shahibabad and Loni on the east of the capital to Azadpur, Burari, Mukherjee Nagar, Mall Road on the West.
The parliamentary constituency is dotted with unauthorised colonies and slums along the Yamuna, the constituency is mainly home to Purvanchali migrants, Dalits and Muslims.
Under the ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign, senior BJP leaders, including Tiwari and booth-level office-bearers, went door to door and talked about the Modi government’s achievements during the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections in 2017. After that, keeping the Purvanchali vote in mind, Pandey has been running the campaign on the Uttar Bhartiya Swabhiman Yatra to instil pride among the community.