Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

NEW DELHI: The East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency has seen as keen a contest for tickets in both the Congress and BJP camps as it would now see for the 10 Delhi Assembly seats at stake. With a number of big names lined up, this constituency that also spreads to the west of the Yamuna covering the happening Jangpura and Okhla seats is all set to witness a number of interesting political battles.

The stakes are high and the die has been cast. In Jangpura, where the population of Sikhs and Punjabi Khatris is nearly 30 per cent, the sitting Congress MLA Tarvinder Singh Marwah would be breathing easy now having finally bagged the ticket ahead of Minto Road MLA Tajdar Babar. And for the burly Sikh MLA the road ahead appears less troublesome. The BJP has given the seat to its ally Shiromani Akali Dal that has fielded Sardar Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

In Okhla, where the election is being fought against the backdrop of the Batla House encounter, the sitting MLA and former Delhi Transport Minister Parvez Hashmi would be facing local Gujjar leader Surendra Bidhuri of the BJP. Another key contestant here is Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Brahm Singh Bidhuri whose wife Kamlesh is a local councillor.

While the new constituency comprises 40 per cent area of old Badarpur, it still has a 43 per cent Muslim population. But Mr. Hashmi may have to contend with public anger against the encounter involving the Delhi police that reports to the Congress-led Government at the Centre.

A one-sided contest is likely in Laxmi Nagar where Delhi Finance Minister A. K. Walia of the Congress is pitted opposite Murari Singh Panwar of the BJP. Considering his popularity and experience, Dr. Walia is confident of a good showing. The BJP, too, has a doctor in party unit president and Krishna Nagar MLA Harsh Vardan who is expected to do well. He is facing Deepika Khullar who had shown her mettle by winning the MCD election from Jagatpuri as an independent on being denied the ticket by the Congress.

East Delhi will see an interesting fight at Patparganj between two-time councillor and Delhi Youth Congress chief Anil Chaudhary of the Congress and former DUSU president Nakul Bharadwaj of the BJP.

In neighbouring Vishwas Nagar, it is a battle of strategists between Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s Parliamentary Secretary Naseeb Singh of the Congress and BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley’s political secretary Om Prakash Sharma.

Probably the most low-profile of all East Delhi seats are Kondli and Trilokpuri. In Kondli, sitting MLA Amrish Singh Gautam of the Congress is pitted opposite Dushyant Gautam of the BJP, while in Trilokpuri, Congress candidate and councillor Anjana Pracha, who got the ticket ahead of sitting MLA Brahm Pal, faces Sunil Vaidya of the BJP. Another straight contest is expected between Congress candidate from Gandhi Nagar and Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely and arch-rival Kalpana Jain of the BJP. In Shahdara, the BJP is in a dilemma as former MLA Ram Niwas Goel has raised the banner of revolt. With the BJP giving the seat to Akali Dal that has fielded Jitender Singh Shanti and the constituency having only a 2 % Sikh population, the Congress candidate and former Minister Narendra Nath could not have asked for more.