Going by the logic of Assembly seats the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency could have been a cakewalk for the Aam Aadmi Party candidate Ashish Khetan. But much water has flown in Yamuna since the electorate sent 7 out of the ten Assembly representatives to AAP.
It would not be an easy contest for the AAP in the Lok Sabha polls in the constituency which seems to be heading towards a triangular contest with the two-time MP Ajay Maken, up against BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi and Mr. Khetan.
Interestingly New Delhi has never been bastion of any party. The two mainstream parties Congress and BJP have won the seat three times each in last six elections. Maken won the last two elections he contested by resounding margins. In 2009, he defeated BJP's Vijay Goel by two lakh votes. However, Congress bleak performance in the Assembly elections are reasons for him not to be complacent.
The challenge is for the entire three candidates, is to woo the votes of the middle class which constitutes a substantial chunk of the 14.2 lakh electorate of the seat. The voters in the area include government employees residing in colonies at Lodhi Road, Gole Market, Sarojini Nagar Andrews Ganj, R.K. Puram and Moti Bagh besides middle class voters in areas like Karol Bagh, Rajinder Nagar, Patel Nagar, Malviya Nagar, Kalkaji and Lajpat Nagar.
Battling the anti-incumbency of the UPA a widespread perception of a clean image will come to the rescue of the sitting MP Mr. Maken. Ms. Lekhi is banking on the “Modi wave” to attract the middle class votes.
The real challenge for the AAP in regaining the middle class support is huge as many in the constituency claimed that AAP, to some extent, lost the support of the middle class in the aftermath of the “infamous” dharna by the Arvind Kejriwal Cabinet, Khirki Extension raid and sudden resignation of AAP government. But Mr. Khetan does not find the situation on the ground “very bad” for his party. He talked about the “tremendous” support and goodwill for the AAP on the ground which he claimed will turn into votes.
“The perception that we have completely lost the middle support has no evidence on the ground to substantiate itself. I think its all propaganda fed to a section of the media by the BJP. We might have made some mistake during the 49-dayg government, but still people across the board in every constituency says AAP’s governance was the best,” said the journalist-turned-politician.
The “real challenge” for the AAP is resources. “We do not have money. Resources are our real challenge. So we are banking on door-to-door campaigns and road shows,” he added.