Delhi Elections: In Hari Nagar, a Contest Between Veterans and an Upstart

In Delhi’s Hari Nagar assembly constituency, it is a contest between two experienced candidates and an upstart: AAP’s Rajkumari Dhillon, the Congress’s Surinder Sethi and BJP’s Tajinder Bagga.

Dhillon was a ward councillor of Hari Nagar in the past. Previously affiliated to the Congress, she is now contesting on the AAP’s ticket. She is also the first-ever woman candidate, from a major party, fielded from this seat since 1993.

Kejriwal’s AAP replaced its two time MLA Jagdeep Singh with Rajkumari Dhillon. After speaking to the voters, it becomes clear why AAP did so.

There is an anti-incumbency wave against Jagdeep Singh, and to avoid this, a fresh candidate was fielded. But why an erstwhile Congress member? Because Dhillon’s work as ward councillor is appreciated by most people in Hari Nagar. Even a strong BJP supporter The Wire spoke to expressed admiration for Dhillon.

Dhillon ji hamari aunty hain aur ham unko hi vote dengey (Dhillon is our aunty, we will vote for her),” said a young man who drives a tempo for a living.

A businessman, Arora said, “AAP’s freebie politics is a bad way of doing politics. They are buying voters like this. But Dhillon is very much liked here so AAP will win, I’m sure.”

The Congress’s Surinder Sethi has a following of his own. “All 600 people of my colony will vote for Sethi. It doesn’t matter which party he joins, we will vote for him,” said another voter from the constituency.

The contest is likely to be between AAP and the Congress.

Even though Congress has never won a seat from this area since 1993, it would be interesting to watch the results since BJP – which had had a stronghold on this seat from 1993 till 2013 – has fielded Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga this time.

When asked, what his strategies are, Bagga said that tackling pollution in Delhi will be his main focus, along with recycling of garbage on the roads.

Most voters in Hari Nagar, young and old, men and women seem to be sold on the idea of free electricity and free water and did not mention pollution and garbage being issues of concern.

Those who do not support the AAP, like Arora, said that it is difficult for Bagga to win. “Unko koi jaanta nahi hai (Nobody knows him).” But Arora said he supports the BJP at the Centre and his disinterest in voting for Bagga reflects the apprehension voters have to vote for an inexperienced candidate.

While sitting MLA Jagdeep Singh quit the party after being dropped, he has since reconsidered. He said on the advice of AAP’s leadership, he would like to continue with the party. When asked about Jagdeep’s displeasure, Rajkumari Dhillon said, “He will walk with us.”

Bagga criticised AAP’s move to ‘import’ a candidate from the Congress. He said, “AAP’s politics is in such bad shape that they are importing candidates from the Congress party.”

But on the ground, most voters are impressed both with the MLA candidate and the CM face that AAP has provided them with. The Congress and the BJP haven’t been able to impress the voters on either of these fronts.