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Gurugram’s electorate a microcosm of India’s voters

School teacher Sanju Choudhry moved her family from Jaipur to Gurugram a decade ago in search of a job.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election in the city on May 12, parties have been vying to seek credit for development in Gurugram. Ms. Choudhry, however, believes that the city has miserably failed to live up to its sobriquet of a ‘Millennium City’.

“I still find mobility to be the biggest problem in the city. The city bus service is in shambles and metro connectivity is confined to a small portion of the city. It is scary to go out on the road in your car during rush hours,” said Ms. Choudhry.

With around 250 of the Fortune 500 companies having offices in the area, Gurugram has been dubbed Haryana’s economic capital.

However, Gurugram recently made headlines for being the most polluted city in the world.

Besides bad air quality, the city is also grappling with poor state of roads. Twice over the past three years, the city came to a standstill as heavy rain led to waterlogging and monster jams lasting over 24 hours.

Core issues

Ravinder Bhardwaj, a resident of Sector 15 Part-II, said that the lack of public transport, depleting groundwater levels, rising pollution and poor waste management had been the core issues for urban voters election after election, but the politicians only seemed to pay lip service to it.

Sitting BJP MP Rao Inderjit Singh, in his election speeches, lists completion of much-delayed Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, allocation of AIIMS project in Manethi and setting up of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority as some of the major achievements of his government.

Toll plaza

He has, however, been repeatedly attacked by Congress’ Capt. Ajay Yadav, a six-time Rewari MLA, over non-completion of the Dwarka Expressway, failure to shift the Kherki Daula toll plaza, and non-expansion of the metro network.

The shifting of the toll plaza has been a long-pending demand of industrialists who say that they get stuck in major traffic snarls almost daily on their commute to and fro Industrial Model Township in Manesar.

Jannayak Janta Party’s Mehmud Khan, an IIM post-graduate, fighting on the plank of good governance, has been targeting the BJP government for amending the Punjab Land Preservation Act to take the legal protection off the Aravali mountain range — the city’s lungs.

The newly-formed JJP is contesting the Lok Sabha election in Haryana in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.

Helped by the strong presence of the BJP in the region and his own team of dedicated workers, Mr. Singh will likely benefit from the entry of a Muslim candidate into the fray, said analysts.

Mr. Khan could queer the pitch for Capt. Yadav by cutting into over five lakh Meo Muslim voters, who could vote for the Congress to keep the BJP out.

Wide range of voters

Spread across three districts and comprising nine Assembly constituencies, the Gurugram Lok Sabha constituency, with around 21 lakh voters, is a surreal mix of voters — ranging from corporate workforce to migrant labourers to farmers to Meo Muslims in Nuh, one of the 100 most backward districts in the country.

In the Muslim-dominated Nuh district, long-pending demands for railway connectivity and a university remain unfulfilled.

On mind of voters

In hushed tones, the locals concede that the increase in attacks on Muslims during Narendra Modi’s rule and lynching of Pehlu Khan and Rakbar Khan will be on their minds when they go to vote.

Lack of employment opportunities and poor health and education infrastructure are also important election issue for the locals here.

Mohammad Shakeel, a resident of Ghasera village, said that he owned around four acres of land, but had been living hand to mouth.

“Farmers do not get adequate price for their produce and depend on rain for irrigation. In most of the villages, drinking water is supplied from outside putting additional financial burden on the poor. The health and education infrastructure is in complete disarray,” said Akram Khan, a resident of Akera village in Nuh.

Unemployment issues

Rendered jobless due to non-renewal of his commercial driving licence, like 30,000-odd others in Nuh, Mohammad Jalil said that he will vote for change. “I will vote for a party who promises jobs and good schools and hospitals,” he said.

Hit hard by the loss of jobs due to demonetisation, closure of factories and dilution of labour laws, thousands of workers employed in automotive, pharmaceutical and textile industry are an important constituent of this seat.

Despite being a sizeable vote bank, the issues of workers do not find echo in the campaign by different political parties.

Source: thehindu.com

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