Get set… elections!

From door-to-door campaigning and organising nukkad sabha to putting images of gods on pamphlets to keep them off trash, parties are going all out

RIVALRY: While the Aam Aadmi Party is using garbage issue to attract voters, the BJP is not backing off / Photo: Faisal Malik

With the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections around the corner on December 4, the three major parties have intensified their campaigning strategies with multiple programmes, catchy songs and slogans, padayatra (area walks) and door-to-door campaigns. 

The slogan “MCD mein bhi Kejriwal (Kejriwal in MCD too)” was already famous even before the campaigning for 2022 elections gathered momentum. 

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) began the first of its two-phase campaigning with the slogan “Sarkar Kejriwal Ki, Parishad Kejriwal Ka (Kejriwal’s government, Kejriwal’s council)”. 

‘Garbage campaign’ vehicles were also launched to highlight the ‘garbage mismanagement’ under Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) BJP. 

The main aim of the party in the first phase – which ran from November 17 to November 22 – was to create awareness around the three garbage ‘mountains’ i.e. landfills in the national capital as well as highlight the sanitation problems in different wards.

“Parts of Nizamuddin area that have mounds of garbage, come under my ward. The garbage mounds have led to multiple diseases and so many people have been affected. One cannot even stand there, and people live there. A lot of promises were made to remove the mounds but nothing has been done about it,” says Sarika Chaudhary, an AAP candidate from Daryaganj Ward 142.

“Whenever the Delhi government tries to do some work in the area, MCD does not give NOC (No Objection Certificate). How can we do anything in this situation? If AAP wins, we will have both the government and corporation under us and we will bring a change in the way things work,” she says.

In the second phase of the campaign, which was more intense and lasted 10 days – from November 23 to December 2 – the AAP government planned to hold jansamvad (public communication events), nukkad sabha (public meetings), pad yatra, magic shows and one-to-one campaigns. Around 1,000 public meetings were held with MLAs, MPs and local party leaders being the star campaigners. 

“People have already seen the kind of work the AAP government has done. We have made schools better, hospitals clean and hygienic, provided free fare to women among others. We are reaching out to local people and we are not making false promises; we are just telling them the kind of work we have done when in power,” an AAP party worker told Patriot.

The huge infrastructure that the Sheila Dikshit administration built in Delhi has been highlighted by the Congress in its campaign. 

As a part of the strategy, the party has flagged vans with photograph of Sheila Dixit, the former Delhi Chief Minister who died in July, 2019. Pamphlets for local wards also include her picture to remind the times of “Sheilaji’s Delhi”.

OLD IS GOLD: In the absence of any big face, Congress is turning the clock back and using Sheila Dikshit’s legacy to attract voters

Party workers are telling people that BJP and AAP have failed to make any improvement to the city. The BJP has governed the municipal corporation for 15 years while AAP has governed the state for eight years. 

“People are willing to bring back the 75-year-old party which has ruled all over India and I believe that they will,” says a party worker.

Cheena Malik, a Congress candidate from Rajinder Nagar ward, says that one-to-one campaigns play an important role as they build a connection between residents and leaders. “We are having private meetings where we are discussing our agenda with the people and we are also holding one-to-one campaigns to address people’s grievances, which include sanitation, mismanagement and corruption among others,” she says.

She also adds that candidates from other parties such as BJP and AAP in her ward do not belong to the region and have no connection with the people. “I have been living here for the last 20 years so I know what kind of difficulties people go through in this area. Other party leaders – at least in this area – do not even live here so they have no idea what is going on,” she says.

Another issue that the party has highlighted is the condition of MCD schools and lack of basic sanitation. Mounds of garbage and poor sewage drainage remain the two talking points for the party. 

“In our ward, the BJP has done nothing and MCD schools remain in deplorable conditions. How will children study in such schools if they are constantly threatened by multiple diseases?” asks Arun Bagri, a party campaigner, who is highlighting these issues to the public.

In Jama Masjid ward 75, the talking points for the Congress party leaders are women’s park, availability of equipment in Kasturba Hospital, construction of new libraries, corruption in paperwork among others. “These are the local issues that we are raising since the residents will relate to them and vote for us,” says Mohammad Rabbani, President of Indian Youth Congress from Chandni Chowk and a party campaigner.

Bharatiya Janata Party launched its 12-point manifesto on November 25 which promised housing for the poor, reduction in property taxes, regularisation of weekly markets among others. “Our vision is our manifesto. Other parties can say that we have done nothing in 15 years but it is people who know the best,” a BJP party worker said.

In Sarai Pipal Thala ward near Azadpur in north-east Delhi, BJP party workers are distributing calendars with the photographs of gods and goddesses along with a photograph of the candidate as a part of the campaign. 

“A lot of people will throw away the calendars if we use any other kind of imagery. If there is a god on the calendar, they will keep it in their room or hang it on their walls, which will remind them who to vote for on the day of election,” says Satyandra Sathyarthi, a party leader from the region.

Smaller parties are also trying to make a mark through campaigning. In the Muslim-majority area Batla House, the party All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is majorly counting victory on “silent voters”, especially women. 

“We are having a lot of campaigns for the election but silent voters are something we are really counting on. There are three big parties competing in the election and voters are intimidated by them,” says a party worker.

In Shahbad Dairy ward, Revolutionary Workers Party of India (RWPI) is holding one-to-one outreach programmes and public meetings. The party workers claim they cannot do much about the campaigning due to lack of funds. 

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Shehwaaz covers community, sexuality, gender, and other social issues for Patriot.