Najafgarh, a village on the outskirts of South-West Delhi, has a traffic problem. Thirty-year-old Suman Lata Dagar, an active member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), would like to fix this problem of the village which borders Haryana. Traffic jams are a localised issue in the area, she says, just like concerns over the safety of women and poor quality of roads.
Suman, who previously contested the Delhi University Students’ Union elections, is raising the stakes this year and is among the several young Bharatiya Janata Party workers looking for a ticket for the Assembly polls.
Her impressions of the Najafgarh constituency are candid. She talks of her party’s inability to win the seat for years, the success of “notorious” independent candidates and the young people of the area who indulge in anti-social activities. Independent MLA Bharat Singh, who was shot at last year, is the sitting MLA from the area.
“There has been no development here, no education, no new colleges set up or any step towards alleviating local problems,” says Suman. She believes that being a woman is advantageous since there have been successful women councillors from the area and the community has a “soft corner” for women.
“My first priority will be to bring about some calm and create a comfortable environment here. I will also make sure there is enough done to ensure the safety of women and students,” she says, citing an example from a couple of years ago of two girl students being run over by a tractor.
Suman’s colleague and BJYM president Gaurav Khari, who serves as a member of the BJP’s election core group, is looking to contest the elections from Burari. “The party has always been very supportive of young people,” says this former councillor.
He was not allowed to contest the 2008 Assembly elections as he was already an elected representative in the municipal corporation. “I have been noticing a lot of activism among young people. They are more willing to come out and do something and change society,” he says.
Gaurav (32) says he is fairly confident that he will be given a chance to make a difference. He is heading a young team which is putting in place a strategy to woo first-time voters in Delhi.
“We have started planning for the Delhi elections and have collected booth-wise data on first-time voters,” he says. The Election Commission has enrolled more than 3.5 lakh young voters in Delhi in the lead up to the elections, giving Gaurav and his team enough work to do.
Meanwhile, 32-year-old Nakul Bharadwaj, who hopes to contest again this year from Patparganj, is hoping his online presence works for his electoral chances. “I have three accounts on Facebook,” says Nakul, who lost by a narrow margin of 600-odd votes to Congress candidate Anil Kumar in the 2008 elections.
“The situation in Patparganj has not changed. People still struggle for basic amenities such as drinking water or access to a proper sewage system. Even the law and order situation has been terrible with at least two to three chain-snatching incidents every day,” he says.
Asked if he is confident of getting a second chance, Nakul says: “It all depends on the party. I have worked hard for the past five years and the party has always been supportive of the youth”.