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Tirath has an edge over rivals

BJP’s Krishna Tirath is banking on her work as a former Union minister.

Kirti Pandey & Aditya Sakorkar  New Delhi | 31st Jan 2015

BJP supporters in Patel Nagar dress mannequins in party colours before Krishna Tirath’s rally.| PHOTO: abhishek shukla

BJP candidate Krishna Tirath, who was a Congress minister in the UPA government, has a clear edge over her rivals from the Patel Nagar Assembly constituency. A reserved constituency, Patel Nagar includes upper middle-class areas like East and West Patel Nagar, Rajendra Place, Ranjeet Nagar, middle class areas like Baljit Nagar and Prem Nagar, and lower-middle class colonies like Faridpuri, Punjabi Basti and Shadipur. Patel Nagar was carved out after merging Baljit Nagar constituency and neighbouring areas during delimitation in 2008. Baljit Nagar was originally Tirath's Assembly seat before she moved to the Lok Sabha. Tirath won the seat on a Congress ticket in 1993, 1998 and 2003 Assembly elections. After her, Rajesh Lilothia of the Congress was winning the Baljit Nagar/Patel Nagar seat until he was defeated by Veena Anand of the Aam Aadmi Party in December 2013.

In this year's election, Tirath's rivals are Congress' Lilothia, AAP's Hazari Lal Chauhan and Veena Anand, who is fighting as an independent after AAP denied her ticket.

Caste plays a major role in this constituency. Tirath and Veena Anand are Jatav by caste. Jatavs dominate this seat. Chauhan is a Khatik. Lilothia's caste could not be determined.

At the slum cluster of Khampur Gaon, Nanak Chand, a laundryman, said, "Whether anyone accepts it or not, the Narendra Modi wave still exists. Krishna Tirath will win because of this. However, it is difficult to call her a Dalit candidate as she is from the creamy layer." He added that projecting Kiran Bedi as the BJP's Chief Minister candidate will get votes for the party.

Tirath, who was conducting a road show, said that she would win: "I have been doing good work in the area of women and child development. People here are aware of this and they will vote for me." When contacted, Congress' Rajesh Lilothia said, "I am confident of victory as people have seen me work for ten years when I was MLA twice. I have brought development. I got tap water supply instead of tankers, rebuilt sewers even in narrow lanes."

However, Vicky Bohot, a salesperson from the Balmiki community, another important reserved caste, said that when Lilothia was MLA, he did nothing. "As elections came closer, he suddenly tried to fix pavement tiles and the sewage system in New Ranjit Nagar, where I reside," Bohot said. He added that Veena Anand too did not do any work.

In Ranjit Nagar's deeper pockets, an animated debate was going on. Chattar Singh, an auto rickshaw driver, and his wife Gurdeep Kaur, expressed fierce support for AAP. They ridiculed Kiran Bedi's claims of solving women's safety issues in the city with the "snap of her fingers". "That's a tall claim, given that the Delhi police is under the Union Home Ministry and not the Delhi government. But I condemn AAP's posters calling Bedi an 'avsarvadi (opportunist)'. I think that was below the belt," Chattar Singh said.

Ram Nivas Upadhyaya, who was the other participant in the debate, expressed support for Kiran Bedi and the BJP. "I am a retired Delhi Traffic Corporation employee. Kejriwal let down several of my colleagues who are working on contract . He promised them absorption into regular service, but did not. In contrast, Kiran Bedi's tenure as an IPS officer was marked by honesty and reform," Upadhyaya said.Image 2nd

Jagdish Lal Khanduja, former head of the Patel Nagar traders' association, said that Tirath had won several elections before. "The Congress portrayed anyone associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a menace. But I am a proud supporter of the RSS because without their volunteers' assistance, my family would not have made it alive to India from Miyawali (now in Pakistan) during Partition. Several members from my family were killed," Khanduja said.

Veena Anand, Patel Nagar's sitting MLA, said, "Hazari Lal Chauhan was in the Congress for a long time. Now suddenly he joins the AAP and gets a ticket," Anand said. Chauhan is a controversial choice. "His own daughter-in-law has filed a case against him," Anand said. Chauhan was booked for dowry harassment after his daughter-in-law accused him and his family of torturing her.

Chauhan could not be contacted for comments.

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