West Delhi’s Rajouri Garden is all set to choose its next MLA on April 9 in a three-cornered contest, being seen as a litmus test for the AAP, two years after it stormed to power with a record 67 seats.
For the BJP and the Congress, success in the bye-election would be considered a sign of their continuing relevance in the city’s politics, where the two parties were decimated in the last election.
The Congress, which ruled the city for 15 years at a stretch, is leaving no stone unturned to pull off a victory and register its presence in the 70-member Delhi Assembly.
The seat fell vacant early this year after AAP’s Jarnail Singh quit as MLA to contest Punjab Assembly poll against SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal, only to lose and considerably dent AAP’s chances of holding on to the seat.
The AAP has come up with a new face – Harjeet Singh – for the election.
While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed one rally in the area, the Congress brought in newly elected Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to address the voters in constituency dominated by the Punjabi community.
The two had several feuds in the run up to the Punjab polls where Amarinder, a Congress giant, trounced the Kejriwal-led AAP and relegated the BJP-SAD to the third position.
The BJP-SAD combine has fielded veteran Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who had won the seat in 2013.
In the recent Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee election, he defeated the Congress-backed candidate from the Punjabi Bagh ward.
Other candidates who are also in the fray are: Hardeep Singh (Independent), Lalit Taak (All India Forward Bloc) and Devinder Singh Nagi (Purvanchal Mahapanchayat).
The constituency is a mix of a resettlement colonies in Raghubir Nagar, unauthorised colonies in Vishnu Garden, urban villages like Khyala, the middle class Tagore Garden and upscale Rajouri Garden.