This Article is From Dec 10, 2013

How Sheila Dikshit lost the New Delhi seat

The three-time Delhi Chief Minister lost to AAP's Arvind Kejriwal by over 25,000 votes.

New Delhi: In the heart of Lutyens' Delhi, a kilometre away from Sheila Dikshit's house, is the Tughlaq Lane slum cluster.

Its residents, who live in rickety shacks, tell us that their VIP neighbours are Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Aggarwal, Union Minister Krishna Tirath, and down the road, Rahul Gandhi.

The 500 families here - mostly Dalits and Muslims - have, for years, provided the core base that underlies Sheila Dikshit's hat-trick win in the New Delhi constituency.  

In fact, nearly 60,000 of the elite New Delhi seat's 1.2 lakh voters live in such low income settlements, almost all Congress loyalists. Now no longer. ('Pahle AAP', says BJP after falling short of majority in Delhi)
A young AAP volunteer from here, Ravi Basaur, says that a majority of the settlement voted for Arvind Kejriwal.

Mr Kejriwal went on to poll more than 45,000 votes across this constituency, defeating Mrs Dikshit, who held this seat since 1998, by almost 25,000 votes. (For AAP, a brilliant 2013. But for 2014, challenges are many)

Mr Basaur says that even though Sheila Dikshit lives a kilometre away, she has not visited them even once for the past 10 years. In contrast, they say, Mr Kejriwal visited often.

Even more shockingly, Mahavir Singh, a polling agent for Sheila Dikshit, and a hardcore Congress loyalist says that he too voted for the AAP. He says when they would go to to her residence for day-to-day favours like gas connections and school admissions, they were turned away. (Poll: Should AAP form government in Delhi? Or is re-election better?)

But their anger peaked during the Commonwealth Games, when the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, on whose land these slums are built, threatened to bulldoze them.

The slum dwellers were shocked, since they claim they had been promised to be rehoused under a scheme ironically named after Rajiv Gandhi, the Rajiv Ratna housing scheme.  

When they went to meet Sheila Dikshit's sister, Rama Dhawan, who looked after the New Delhi constituency for the outgoing Chief Minister, they were turned away.

Mr Singh claims Mrs Dhawan told them that there was nothing she could do.  

The Congress complacency has dented its vote in similar slum pockets that are hidden away in Delhi's most elite enclaves, and where voter turnout was the heaviest. (Kejriwal wiser than me: Sheila)  

Like BR Camp, a run-down settlement of employees who work in Delhi's Race Course, right opposite the Prime Minister's residence.

Here too we were told that they live in constant threat of eviction, and repeated promises by the Congress to give them a permanent status have not been kept. They too voted heavily for Arvind Kejriwal.

In Sheila Dikshit's defense, one of her political advisers Chhattar Singh says that she took several steps to improve the lives of these slum clusters.  

But an even more worrying testimony for the Congress comes from Cheddan Lal, the pradhan or head of the Tuglaq Lane cluster, right next to Rahul Gandhi's house, who says his choice for 2014 is clear.

"The country needs Narendra Modi," he said.