Plagued by parking and sewage woes, residents of the constituency say they want a change

Begumpur resident Hira Lal is the informal solution to parking problems in Malviya Nagar’s main market. At 65, he sits comfortably on his haunches, with his back to a car, smoking a beedi. There are 15 others like him who guide cars into the limited parking spots along the busy market road, making an average of Rs.300 per day.

Hundreds of customers visit this trading hub in the Malviya Nagar Assembly constituency and parking seems to be the reason for their furrowed brows.

Area residents cite inadequate parking, lack of public toilets and an insufficient sewerage system as problems that need to be addressed. The area needs a “person who gets the work done”, says Ashok Sharma, the market association’s general secretary.

“Kiran Waliaji has been there for five years and she has kept some of her promises. She changed the water pipelines and has initiated the beautification of the market,” he says.

“But the Congress Government has been in power for 15 years and people are looking for a change because of price rise and high electricity and water tariffs.”

In the 2008 Delhi Assembly elections, sitting Congress MLA Kiran Walia defeated BJP candidate Ram Bhaj, winning 46.55 per cent of the votes. This time the BJP has fielded one of its stronger women candidates, former Delhi mayor Aarti Mehra.

Life-size images of the two women greet voters at bus shelters around Khirki extension and billboards in Gautam Nagar. While Ms. Mehra asks Delhiites to “vote out the corrupt regime”, three-term MLA Ms. Walia asks voters to chose the “tried, tested, trusted” option.

“The mood is absolutely anti-Congress,” says a confident Ms. Mehra, who will work on decongesting traffic and creating more areas for parking if voted to power.

“I will also bring in a sewage master plan for the constituency since the sewage system is flawed in many parts, including Hauz Rani and Gautam Nagar. Further, I will approve extending the water pipeline since 18 per cent of households do not get water in the area,” she adds. 

Elsewhere, in the urban village of Humayunpur, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Somnath Bharti is on his padyatra, knocking on doors asking people to vote for him. A lawyer, an IIT-Delhi alumnus and a “clean candidate”, Mr. Bharti tells voters not to repeat the mistake of voting for Ms. Mehra or Ms. Walia. Mr. Bharti has 60-year-old Nayan Singh and his elderly father, Phool Singh, convinced only because they believe “there needs to be change”. 

With only 55 per cent voting percentage in the previous election in the constituency, it may be a tough task for the AAP to garner many votes, observes Mr. Sharma. “In South and New Delhi constituencies, voting is generally low and if educated people feel that since the AAP may not be able to form the government, they won’t want to waste their votes.”

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