The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government seems to be losing its loyal voter base in the form of Delhi autowallahs. And so is also true of its migrant voter base.
It was the strong loyalty of the auto drivers towards AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal — who in 2014 promised Delhi citizens of an alternative politics and a clean government — that had catapulted the latter to the post of the chief minister of Delhi.
But in two years, there has been an apparent erosion in that loyalty and a shift has taken place from AAP to Janata Dal (United). A large number of autowallahs had recently met JD(U) leaders in Delhi and complained about the unfulfilled promises that Kejriwal had made during Delhi Assembly elections.
But, why JD(U)?
A large number of auto-rickshaw drivers in Delhi are migrants from Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh, and now after getting disillusioned with Kejriwal, are looking up to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party that can solve their problems in the national capital.
“It’s we the Delhi autowallahs who campaigned free of cost for Arvind Kejriwal and AAP in 2014. The party won with a huge mandate due to strong support from us. But, two years have passed, and AAP government hasn’t fulfilled the promises it made to us prior to the elections. If you consider Bihar, there Nitishji has changed the picture of the state; whereas in Delhi the unrecognised colonies and settlements continue to be in shambles. Often, we have to buy water from tankers, whereas Delhi government promised free water. This is the irony,” said Avadesh, an auto-rickshaw driver from Sangam Vihar in south Delhi, who hails from Darbhanga in Bihar.
This shift of allegiance is not limited to autowallahs alone; a chunk of AAP volunteers joined JD(U) on a Sunday afternoon on 25 February. Approximately, 50 AAP volunteers belonging to Purvanchali group from east Delhi joined JD(U) to strengthen the latter’s vote base for the upcoming Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) polls.
With JD(U)'s entry, the Delhi civic polls have gained momentum with strong competition to woo the migrant voters, especially the Purvanchalis.
“Around 50 AAP volunteers joined us on Sunday afternoon, as they strongly feel that Delhi government has disappointed the Purvanchali migrants. I visited several unrecognised colonies and found that the civic amenities in these areas are in a pathetic state. Drinking water is inaccessible for many, with only 12-14 hours of electricity supply. Governance is a serious issue in Delhi whereas Nitishji has proved his mettle and changed the picture of Bihar. His model of governance is the best in India today, because a decade back people had stopped talking about Bihar. Today, however, it’s back in the limelight,” JD(U) national general secretary and Delhi in-charge Sanjay Jha told Firstpost.
Migrants: a considerable vote bank
Over the decades, the demography of Delhi has undergone a major change due to the influx of migrants from Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern UP, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, etc. According to a rough estimate, there are nearly 40 lakh migrants in Delhi, and all the political parties have been eyeing this pie in the electorate.
Though Delhi has witnessed rapid growth and expansion, the living condition in 1,640 odd unrecognised colonies and settlements is deplorable.
“There is serious discontent among migrants living in Delhi and it has remained unaddressed for long. We supported AAP in large numbers as we felt that Kejriwal would seriously solve these issues. He won twice but did nothing. This segment of migrants, of which Purvanchalis are a major part, became an important vote bank for political parties, whether for Assembly or civic bodies’ polls. In days to come, many of us from AAP will join JD(U),” another AAP volunteer from Mayur Vihar, a migrant said on conditions of anonymity.
JD(U) plans to contest MCD polls
While deciding to contest all the 272 seats in the upcoming MCD polls, the JD(U) has prepared a comprehensive strategy with an eye on the migrant section of the electorate. The party’s poster boy Nitish Kumar is expected to hold two rallies in Delhi ahead of the polls.
“Not just the migrant voters or Purvanchalis, even many Sikhs have extended their support to us. It has been possible due to immense praise that Nitishji got for his grand arrangement on the 350th birth anniversary celebration of Guru Gobind Singh, called Prakash Utsav, in Patna. His work and leadership skills have received international recognition and Delhi’s migrant voters have expressed faith in him,” added Jha.
The party has begun mapping the unrecognised colonies and settlements, the hub of potential voters, where the residents have been deprived of civic amenities. The issue of getting recognition for these settlements continues to bother them.
“Delhi needs more governance than Bihar. The drains in our locality are lying choked for months. Neither the BJP-backed municipal corporation nor Delhi government is doing anything to sort out the problem,” said Sanjeev, a resident of Badarpur.
Updated Date: Mar 01, 2017 19:24 PM