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New Delhi: A high profile LS seat with local issues

New Delhi: A high profile LS seat with local issues
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The New Delhi Lok Sabha seat, which houses the residences and workplaces of all the key office holders in the country

The New Delhi Lok Sabha seat, which houses the residences and workplaces of all the key office holders in the country, has a set of local issues to deal with as it gears up for the May 12 polls.

The constituency, formed in 1951, is the oldest of the seven constituencies of Delhi with 16,17,470 voters -- a mix of the elite, middle-class central government employees and those from the lowest strata of the society.

It houses prestigious institutions like the Parliament, Supreme Court, Central government offices, official residences of the President, Prime Minister, all the Union Ministers, top civil, judicial, military officials and the Diplomatic Enclave.

The constituency also has high-profile markets like the Khan Market, Defence Colony, South Extension, Connaught Place, Green Park, Hauz Khas and Lajpat Nagar.

It is said that New Delhi is among those constituencies in the country where caste politics does not play a crucial role in the elections.

Comprising 10 Assembly seats, the constituency was given a large area in south Delhi during the 2008 delimitation.

The Assembly seats -- Karol Bagh (SC), Patel Nagar (SC), Moti Nagar, Delhi Cantt, Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi, Kasturba Nagar, Malviya Nagar, R.K. Puram, Greater Kailash -- have all been won by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Karol Bagh, Patel Nagar, Moti Nagar and Rajinder Nagar Assembly seats were added to the constituency in 2008 when the Karol Bagh Lok Sabha constituency was dissolved.

The Malviya Nagar, R.K. Puram and Delhi Cantt Assembly seats were added to the South Delhi parliamentary constituency in 2008.

Starting from the sealing drive to lack of good roads, water supply and dysfunctional street lights, residents here have more to deal with.

Suresh Yadav from Karol Bagh said that the elected representatives were least bothered about the issues. He said: "They come here for seeking votes and disappear.

This is an election where we should focus on the national issues." On being asked about the national issues, he said the lack of employment was at the top.

"The Modi-government was least bothered about the youths and jobs for them. I have a son who is struggling to get a job. There are several others like him and no one has the time to deal with their issues."

Dinesh Malik, 65, from New Rajendra Nagar said: "Since the past two years, the locals have been suffering because of the sealing drive but none of the MPs took part and tried to get involved with the locals.

They never bothered to ask the locals what they actually wanted. They blamed everything on the Supreme Court and escaped from their responsibilities."

The sealing drive against unauthorized constructions was being carried out in Delhi as per the order of the Supreme Court.

About 10,000 properties were sealed across the national capital for land misuse, including converting residential units into commercial ones, non-payment of conversion charges and increased pollution emissions since December 2017. Of these, about 3,000 properties were under the New Delhi Municipal Council.

Malik said in his area alone, over 300 offices were sealed which added to the list of unemployed. "Each office was giving employment to at least five people. So nearly 1,500 people were unemployed.

The owner had made some investments but now the property is sealed."

He said during the 1947 partition, people were given land to open a business and they were expected to live on the first floor.

"The families found that the spaces were too small... The area was not enough for a family to live and converting residential units into commercial ones was the only option left."

Malik said the multiple authorities here did not help in solving the issues. "The roads here are in bad shape.

In Delhi, as the areas were divided between the Centre, city government and the local bodies, they keep on blaming each other and no work is done..."

A major chunk of the voters in the constituency are traders, who too have suffered due to the sealing drive. Arvind Mehta, from Motia Khan, said water was a major issue in the area.

"Water is supplied only in the morning, that too for a very short period. The roads are in bad shape with potholes and street lights are not working. There is also lack of security in the area. Sewer overflow is another problem," he said.

In 2014, the New Delhi seat was bagged by the Bharatiya Janata Party's Meenakshi Lekhi who got 4,53,350 votes (47.02 per cent), while the AAP's Ashish Khetan got 2,90,642 votes (30.14 per cent) and the Congress' Ajay Maken came third with 1,82,893 votes (18.97 per cent).

This time again, the seat will see a triangular contest between these parties. While the BJP has nominated its sitting MP Lekhi, the Congress has named its two-time MP Maken and the AAP has named 43-year-old Brijesh Goyal.

Of the 16 general elections and two by-elections for the seat since 1951, the party which won the seat formed the government at the Centre 13 times.

Nivedita Singh

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