West Delhi 2024 Election: Infrastructure Sets the Tone in BJP Vs AAP Contest for This Lok Sabha Seat 

Mahabal Mishra, who represents the Aam Aadmi Party this time, was earlier an MP from the West Delhi constituency under a Congress ticket  
Kamaljeet Sehrawat of BJP (left) and Mahabal Mishra of AAP (right) are the two major contestants in the West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency
Kamaljeet Sehrawat of BJP (left) and Mahabal Mishra of AAP (right) are the two major contestants in the West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency

Abhinav Sharma, a student from Dwarka, is looking forward to voting for the first time. Among the other issues on his mind, one reigns supreme: infrastructure development. He cites the example of delay in work of the Punjabi Bagh flyover to highlight the problem of sluggish execution of key projects which can ease the lives of citizens in West Delhi. “The work has been going on since before I started college. I don’t think it will be done anytime soon,” he says.  

In this election season, infrastructure seems to be setting the tone in the West Delhi parliamentary constituency. Conversations with voters suggest that execution of projects will be on their minds when they head to the polling stations on May 25. As per the Election Commission of India’s data for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, there were close to 24 lakh voters at the seat which was won by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Parvesh Singh Verma. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2014.   

With West Delhi often lagging behind the more affluent parts of Delhi in terms of public infrastructure, the contest this time around has become about who can deliver on the aspirations of lakhs of voters residing in the area.   

Promises Abound  

This time, BJP has fielded Kamaljeet Sehrawat against Aam Aadmi Party’s Mahabal Mishra. The two leading candidates of West Delhi have shaped their campaigns around promises of better infrastructure. Mishra and Sehrawat have promised new projects as well as the execution of older ones.  

Sehrawat is banking on the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. “In the last 10 years, the BJP has worked very hard for India and West Delhi. We will improve on this work by developing a sports facility in unused land, increase the connectivity of the metro especially the Najafgarh to Dhansa border line, and get started on new elevated roadway projects,” Sehrawat said at a public gathering in Vikaspuri this week.  

While the BJP is looking to reap the benefits of PM Modi’s popularity and its government’s record on infrastructure, Mishra is reminding the voters of his track record when he was the MP between 2009 and 2014 under the banner of the Indian National Congress.   

He is confident that the constituency will recall the projects he executed in the past. In his campaign speeches, he highlights the Janakpuri to Paschim Vihar flyover, the grey line metro and the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Dwarka as achievements of his previous term. If elected back to power, Mishra has promised to enhance Najafgarh’s metro connectivity towards Nangloi.   

But behind these promises lurks the fatigue of voters like Sharma. Divakar, a 40-something second-generation resident in Vikaspuri, suspects the pace of changes in his constituency will remain the same no matter who comes to power. “It is always the same set of problems here. Some things like inflation also bother us all the time, which party will fix that?” he asks.  

Notably, the voter turnout in West Delhi at 58.97 per cent in the last Lok Sabha election was lower than the average of the national capital at 60.6 per cent. The cadres of both the parties are working hard to create a poll fervor but it remains to be seen whether the fatigue will have its bearing on the final turnout once again.   

More than the turnout, the arithmetic of this seat would be bigger a concern for the contesting candidates ahead of the voting day.   

State of the Contest  

The West Delhi parliamentary constituency consists of ten assembly constituencies: Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar, Madipur, Janakpuri, Vikaspuri, Uttam Nagar, Dwarka, Najafgarh and Matiala. All the assembly seats were won by AAP in the last assembly election in 2020.

After losing the 2014 and 2019 elections from West Delhi under the Congress ticket, Mishra switched sides to Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP. “Mahabal ji could change his mind about his party, then how can we know whether he will stick to what he says?” asks a BJP supporter in Janakpuri who claims to have voted for Mishra in the past.   

For Mustakeem Khan, a resident of West Delhi’s Matiala region, the elections have turned into a personality war between top leaders. “It is either Modi or Kejriwal. Even in the rallies, the speeches are against Modi or Kejriwal, not about this constituency or its problems,” he said. He adds that the alliance between AAP and INC could be the gamechanger.   

In 2019, when Parvesh Verma won the West Delhi seat for the BJP, he had captured 60 per cent of the vote share. The anti-incumbency votes then were split into two, with INC and AAP receiving 19.9 per cent and 17.4 per cent respectively.   

If BJP’s candidate Sehrawat can match the popularity that Verma achieved in 2019, then the combination of AAP and INC voter bases will fail to defeat BJP.  

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