Balancing local and national issues

BJP’s Rohini MLA Vijender Gupta is seeking re-election based on work done by him for the constituency and the work done by his party for the country

Published - February 06, 2020 01:26 am IST - New Delhi

New Delhi, 05/02/2020: Vijendra Gupta, candidate of BJP from Rohini Vidhan Sabha during a campaign at Rohini, New Delhi.  Photo: Bibek Chettri

New Delhi, 05/02/2020: Vijendra Gupta, candidate of BJP from Rohini Vidhan Sabha during a campaign at Rohini, New Delhi. Photo: Bibek Chettri

BJP leader Vijender Gupta, a sitting MLA from the Rohini Assembly constituency, began his last full day of campaigning with a party meeting in Sector 8 at 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday. Over the next 12 hours, Mr. Gupta’s itinerary included five more party meetings and as many padyatras in addition to four nukkad sabhas and the same number of jan sabhas.

The MLA is a familiar face to local residents and businessmen alike in Rohini – one of the BJP’s traditional bastions. The former Delhi BJP chief, who has led a minuscule Opposition of four MLAs in the Delhi Assembly for five years, talked about local developmental projects delivered by him as well as the ongoing situation in Shaheen Bagh.

“This election is very important... it is not limited to Delhi but the whole country. We are contesting on development. The BJP is synonymous with development... from garbage dumps to issues related to societies and rural pockets, the BJP has solved each problem and will continue to do so,” Mr. Gupta told the residents of Yadav Market, located amidst the bustle of Naharpur village, one of the many rural-turned-semi-urban pockets in his constituency.

“We wanted to contest on the issue of development but the Opposition did Shaheen Bagh. They [the protesters] have shut the gateway to an important National Highway for months. It is where they are hatching a conspiracy to break the country into pieces. They are afraid of the development agenda of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ... Your vote [for the BJP] will stop more roads and junctions from becoming Shaheen Bagh,” he added.

Apart from the BJP’s national pitches of abrogating Article 370, the construction of Ram Temple, and Centre-sponsored schemes such as ‘Jahan Jhuggi, Wahin Makan’ or the in-situ rehabilitation of slum clusters – promised to as many as 10,000 of his constituents, Mr. Gupta’s vision for the coming five years, according to his constituency-specific mini-manifesto, includes significant local issues.

These comprise reconstruction of internal roads and facilities such as guard rooms and local gyms, better maintenance of street lights at cooperative residential societies, in addition to solving issues related to parking and vehicular congestion in Rohini.

The BJP has held sway over the seat for over a decade; except for the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections when the party’s Jai Bhagwan Aggarwal lost to the Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajesh Garg by close to 2,000 votes. The subsequent election, in 2015, saw Mr. Gupta claiming close to 50% of the vote share with 59,867 votes polled in his favour compared to the AAP’s C.L. Gupta’s 54,500 votes.

Work plus nationalism

Naare ko na naam ko, vote Vijender ke kaam ko (Neither on a slogan nor in someone’s name, vote for Vijender’s work)” blared a loudspeaker installed on an e-rickshaw tracing the steps of Mr. Gupt’s padyatra through Sectors 6 and 7, which primarily consist of independent, mostly multi-storey, homes.

Shopkeepers and senior citizens watched from balconies before welcoming him into their shops and offering him sweets amid chants of “ Modi Zindabad ” and “ Jai Shri Ram.

“Look at the support, do not take anyone’s word for it. This is real goodwill from real residents; not like [Delhi Chief Minister Arvind] Kejriwal’s army of people from outside given the task of creating support for him out of thin air,” said Subhash Garg, a local resident.

“Shaheen Bagh and [U.P. CM] Yogi Adityanath’s entry into the fray in Delhi have turned things around for the BJP over the last few days. Along with traditional loyalty of the local voter here, the nationalist narrative has made the chances brighter for the BJP,” said another resident, a property dealer by profession, not willing to disclose his identity.

While some residents – especially the elderly – said their “lives had been made better” through recreational centres set up by Mr. Gupta through his MLA fund, others claimed their MLA had remained missing in action over the last five years.

“Just showing your face during election time once in five years is not enough,” said Ashima Jain (name changed on request). “He has come to Naharpur village not more than twice in the last five years – this time and the last time there were elections around the corner,” claimed Bhola Mishra, a local shopkeeper.

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