Illegal colonies, villages to decide fate of posh South

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Rural and OBC voters form a major chunk of electorate in this seat

New Delhi: For those who associate south Delhi with posh residential areas, the South Delhi Parliamentary constituency could prove to be quite a misnomer.

Apart from some areas such as Kalkaji, the South Delhi constituency is largely an amalgamation of unauthorised colonies, slum clusters and villages. Before delimitation in 2008, the constituency consisted of areas such as Hauz Khas, RK Puram, Delhi Cantonment, Gole Market, Sarojini Nagar, Malviya Nagar and Rajouri Garden. But the present contours of the constituency are shaped by areas carved out of the now dissolved Outer Delhi constituency.

Traditionally, the South Delhi constituency has been a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pocket borough. After Arjun Singh of the Congress won the seat in 1985, it was wrested by BJP’s Madan Lal Khurana in the 1989 general polls. After that, the BJP has been winning the seat with Sushma Swaraj (1996 and 1998) and Vijay Kumar Malhotra (1999-2004) representing the constituency twice each.

In fact, Malhotra was the only BJP candidate to win from Delhi in the 2004 general elections while the Congress swept the other six seats.

In 2009, with the delimitation process altering the face of the constituency and bringing in many rural areas and unauthorised colonies in its fold, the Congress managed to win the seat back after two decades. Ramesh Kumar, the sitting MP from the constituency, was propped for candidature after his older brother and Congress stalwart Sajjan Kumar had to sit out following an outcry from the Sikh community.

Kumar had managed to win last time and it is very much likely that the Congress will repeat him this time. Congress insiders, however, claimed that there is a strong anti-incumbency against Kumar in the rural parts. “The constituency is plagued by shortage of water and Kumar has been unable to solve the problem,” said a senior Congress leader.

Of the 10 assembly constituencies in the area, three are dominated by Scheduled Caste voters — Deoli, Sangam Vihar and Dr. Ambedkar Nagar — who have shown support to the Aam Aadmi Party despite traditionally being considered a Congress vote bank. The constituency, however, is dominated by voters from Other Backward Castes, who form nearly 32% of the electorate.

The Jat community, who form bulk of the population in villages in areas such as Mehrauli and Chattarpur, are likely to support the BJP while the Gujjar community, which resides in areas such as Badarpur, could swing either way.

The Congress faced a rout in the 10 assembly constituencies that form this constituency in the recent assembly elections, with seven seats going to BJP and three to AAP. Congress veteran Yoganand Shastri, who was once touted to get ticket for general elections, lost the assembly election from his stronghold Mehrauli.

The BJP might give the ticket to Pravesh Verma, MLA from Mehrauli and son of Jat strongman SahiOURCb Singh Verma.

However, the key to success might just lie with the OBC voters.



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