Caste affiliations of voters as well as candidates seem to play a crucial role in Delhi politics despite the party campaigns centring on issues such as infrastructure development, price rise and corruption.
Going by the representations in the present Assembly, communities such as Jat, Gujjar, Punjabi, Sikh and Vaish continue to dominate the city’s electoral politics.
The Legislative Assembly today has 11 MLAs from the Jat community, nine each from the Vaish and the Brahmins; and seven MLAs each belonging to the Punjabi and the Gujjar community, while six are Sikhs. The number of MLAs coming from these communities is also almost similar to the percentage of their vote share.
According to various political parties, Jats comprise around 10 per cent of the total voters while Gujjars constitute seven per cent votes in the Capital. While Punjabis constitute nine per cent, Sikh community has a total vote share of four per cent. The Vaish community has eight per cent vote share.
Going by their vote percentage, a BJP candidate said the Jat community can be a deciding factor in at least eight constituencies including Mehrauli, Mundka, Rithala, Nangloi, Matiala, Najafgarh and Bijwasan. Similarly, the support of the Gujjar community will be crucial in Badarpur, Tughlakabad, Sangam Vihar, Gonda, Gokulpuri, Karawal Nagar and Okhla.
While Punjabis and Sikhs have a significant presence in Assembly segments such as Moti Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Vishwas Nagar, Greater Kailash, Jangpura, Hari Nagar, Timarpur, Vaish votes are crucial in Sadar, Chandni Chowk, Shalimar Bagh, Rohini, Shakur Basti and Model Town constituencies.
The candidates in the fray claim all political parties try giving representation to all the communities, however, mere affiliation to a particular caste alone cannot ensure victory.
“There are certain seats, especially in the Outer and rural pockets of the city, where certain castes like the Jats and the Gujjars dominate. With concentration of a particular caste being higher, it is but natural that political leadership from such areas would emerge from these groups. Caste therefore becomes important in assessing the winnability of a candidate. Even the new entrant, AAP, has given representation to different caste groups in several seats,” said Rajesh Gehlot, the BJP candidate from Matiala – a Jat dominated seat in West Delhi
“However, the caste factor alone cannot ensure victory in the polls because most political parties tend to field candidates from the dominant caste in a given constituency. It is the man-to-man contact, a candidate’s track record to get the grievances of people resolved and the party symbol that ultimately become crucial in the electoral outcome,” added Mr. Gehlot, who is also the chairman of standing committee, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.