The New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency may house all the Central government offices but local issues have played their role in the elections, with sealing being the burning one.
The constituency, formed in 1951, 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.
It also has high-profile markets like Khan Market, Defence Colony, South Extension, Connaught Place, Green Park, Hauz Khas and Lajpat Nagar.
About 10,000 properties in Delhi have been sealed 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 are in the New Delhi Municipal Council area.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are playing a blame game over the issue.
While the Congress and the AAP are cornering the BJP over the sealing drive undertaken by municipal corporations controlled by the saffron party, BJP’s candidate from the seat and sitting MP Meenakshi Lekhi has put the blame on the two parties.
Congress candidate and two-time MP from the seat Ajay Maken said that when he was the MP from the area in 2007 he got the sealing drive stalled by making over 170 amendments in the Delhi Master Plan.
“Delhi is a hub of traders and most of the traders still remember the pain of the sealing here, which has been going on since last year. Besides the traders, the people of unauthorised colonies are also affected as they are associated with some small businesses across the city,” Maken said.
The sealing drive against unauthorized constructions was being carried out in Delhi as per the orders of the Supreme Court.
The AAP’s candidate Brijesh Goyal, a traders’ leader, accused Lekhi of being unavailable when the traders suffered because of the sealing drive.
“Prominent markets like Defence Colony, Meharchand Market, Amar Colony, Green Park, Hauz Khas, Lajpat Nagar, Motia Khan, Regarpura, Mansarovar Garden faced the sealing drive. These markets are the pride of Delhi. So many people were unemployed in the area due to the sealing. She disappeared from the constituency and was never available for the people. I tried meeting her several times when sealing began in 2017 with delegations of traders but she refused to meet anyone or take any step to save the livelihoods of the traders of New Delhi,” Goyal said.
Lekhi, the incumbent MP, blamed the Congress for the sealing.
“Maken was the Urban Development Minister when the sealing started. He made changes in Master Plan of Delhi which could not stop sealing. He is the man responsible for sealing in the first place,” she said.
She also blamed the AAP for not being able to resolve the issue.
The AAP and the Congress have been demanding that the Centre bring an ordinance to stop the sealing.
In 2014, of the total 9,64,223 votes, BJP’s Lekhi got 4,53350 votes (47.02 per cent), while Ashish Khetan from the AAP got 2,90,642 (30.14 per cent) and Congress’ Maken came third with 1,82,893 votes (18.97 per cent).
The constituency covers 10 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 — all held by the AAP.
The Karol Bagh, Patel Nagar, Moti Nagar and Rajinder Nagar Assembly segments were added to the constituency in 2008 when the Karol Bagh Lok Sabha constituency was dissolved. Malviya Nagar, R.K. Puram and Delhi Cantt were added from South Delhi parliamentary constituency in 2008.