“Pravesh is the only candidate who belongs to the rural belt”

Around half-a-dozen people sit around a hookah in Chhawla village next to a farmland located kilometres away from the hustle-bustle of the city in the South-Western part of the Capital. And with the election fever gripping the nation, making them change their topic of discussion from mustard harvest to the political undercurrent flowing in the rural belt of Delhi is not a difficult task.

Apne dehat ka ladka hai...usi ko denge...(he is from our rural belt…we will vote for him),” came a reply promptly from Devender Singh, hinting at the BJP candidate from the West Delhi parliamentary constituency, Pravesh Singh Verma. Others join in despite the fact that Chhawla is home to the former Congress MLA from Matiala, Sumesh Shokeen.

The villagers said the entire village voted for Mr. Shokeen during the Assembly elections but things are different this time round. “He (Shokeen) is not contesting himself so it hardly matters. Moreover, Pravesh is the only candidate who belongs to the rural belt. He would be taking the legacy of his father (former CM Sahib Singh Verma) forward who did several good things for the villages,” said Rajeev Shokeen, pradhan of Shiva temple in the village.

Recalling “several projects initiated by the senior Verma, Mr. Shokken cited how the village closely missed getting the Indraprastha University campus which later came up in Dwarka. There is a similarity in the mood of the people in other rural villages including Rewla, Daulatpur, Jhatikra.

Chhawla is one of the around four dozen villages spread over the two Assembly segments of Matiala and Najafgarh under the West Delhi Lok Sabha seat which still retain the ‘rural flavour’ with the residents still practising agriculture and animal husbandry for a living. Several other villages have been eaten away by the fast-paced urbanisation. Put together, there are around 90 villages in the West Delhi parliamentary seat.

While these villages are largely dominated by the Jats, Ahirs and Tyagis, the locals said the “decision of voting generally is taken in the Panchayat and most of the villages largely vote in unison for a particular party”. The number of voters in the rural and urbanised villages put together account for around 30 per cent of the over 20 lakh eligible votes, which could prove decisive in the electoral outcome in West Delhi seat.

Counting on the issues which would determine the voting pattern here, Narvin, a resident of Rewla village said “inflation and corruption also figured on the priority list apart from the political legacy of Mr. Verma”.

“It is still a few days to go (for the voting), but Mr. Modi is surely being discussed. People are fed up of price rise and the scams. Last time we voted for the Congress candidate, but he ner came here during the last five years till two days back. He must have understood the mood of the people due to the people’s response,” he said.

While the villagers talk about rampant corruption, they slam the AAP “for their ways of curbing corruption without putting in place alternate arrangements during their stay in power in Delhi”.