POLLING: 65.03 % in New Delhi parliamentary constituency; support for BJP was visible, largely in the middle and upper class segments in areas like Rajinder Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Lodhi Colony.

In an indication of the changed political scenario Kamal, a dhobi (washerman) by profession standing just a few hundred metres away from the residence of the Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, declared without any qualms that he voted for Ashish Khetan, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from New Delhi parliamentary constituency.

Kamal, who stays in the official quarters of a BJP Member of Parliament, proudly claims that in the 2009 polls he had voted for Ajay Maken who also won the seat defeating the BJP candidate Vijay Goel by an impressive margin of nearly two lakh votes.

But this time when Mr. Maken is pitted against Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP and Mr. Khetan of AAP, he is facing an electorate which has undergone radical shifting of loyalties.

While the AAP seems to have got the support of slum clusters, the residents of unauthorised colonies and lower middle class, Ms. Lekhi appears to have reaped the benefit of support for BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the middle and upper middle class colonies.

Even after facing a strong anti-incumbency factor Mr. Maken on the basis of his “clean” image managed to make lot many voters display confusion as whom else to vote for if they decide to vote for any other party.

A random survey indicates there is no wave for any party in New Delhi parliamentary constituency which is headed for a tight triangular contest between the three.

Like Kamal, who claimed that entire dhobi samaj has voted for the AAP, the party also got support in the vote blocks of lower middle class and lower echelons of the government servants.

“Mr. Maken never visited us or did anything for the lower grade government workers. Whatever anybody says, the AAP is in a strong position here,” said Ram Chakardhar, a peon with the CPWD who voted in the B.K. Dutt Colony polling booth.

But Gurdev Yadav, also a government servant, and Ram Krishna, were of the opinion that Mr. Maken had indeed improved the area in the last 10 years he represented the seat in the Lok Sabha.

The support for BJP was visible, largely in the middle and upper class segments in areas like Rajinder Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Kasturba Nagar, Lodhi Colony and Delhi Cantt.

While Mr. Maken is counting on his clean image which seems to be working to an extent, Mr. Khetan who is hopeful of getting the support of AAP’s traditional vote base, is also banking on the division of middle class votes between Mr. Maken and Ms. Lekhi.

“Thanks to Mr. Maken’s clean image but a strong anti-incumbency, his votes have got divided and the more the middle class votes get divided the better for the AAP,” said a member of Mr. Khetan’s election campaign.

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