It was not the ten years? performance of the Congress Government headed by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit that helped the Congress retaining power in Delhi but the manipulations during the delimitation process that marred the prospects of the BJP. A group of senior Congress leaders worked overtime for almost two years to ensure that the party registers a hat-trick.
According to Congress sources, the party had primarily planned to convert at least 40 assembly seats into its stronghold during the delimitation process. But it could secure only 27 seats. ?We concentrated on three categories?unauthorised colonies, slum dwellers and the Muslims. This is a fact that about 55 per cent of Delhi'spopulation lives in unauthorised colonies and slums. About 1,600 unauthorised colonies sprung up in last 20 years. It was to woo these voters that our government announced a number of schemes for slum dwellers, people living in unauthorised colonies and the Muslims. Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojna was announced to provide houses to slum dwellers only in Rs 60,000 and unauthorised colonies were regularised just a few months before the elections. Even provisional certificates were issued to them by Smt. Sonia Gandhi,? said a Delhi Congress leader requesting anonymity.
The conspiracy on the part of Congress was to ensure a humiliating defeat for the BJP. But the developmental work done by the sitting BJP MLAs foiled their game plan. Almost all the sitting MLAs of BJP successfully retained their seats. The vote percentage of BJP also increased, while the Congress vote percentage declined.
After the notification of delimitation, Seemapuri, Gokulpuri, Trilokpuri, Kondli, Karol Bagh, Patel Nagar, Sultanpur Majra, Mangol Puri, Madipur, Deoli, Ambedkar Nagar and Bawana seats were reserved for SCs. The demographical boundaries of these seats were redrawn to fully favour the Congress. Similarly, the Congress ?think tank? got 14 more seats redrawn where Muslims play a decisive role. These seats are Seelampur, Chandni Chowk, Matia Mahal, Ballimaran, Badarpur, Sangam Vihar, Vikaspuri, Kirari, Okhla, Karawal Nagar, Mustafabad, Ghonda, Sadar Bazar, Shahdara and Babarpur.
Justice (retd.) Kuldeep Singh was chairman of this Delimitation Commission. It was assisted by associate members including five MPs (Sandeep Dikshit, Sajjan Kumar, Ajay Maken, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Krishna Tirath) and five MLAs (Arvinder Singh Lovely, Ramakant Goswami, Jile Singh Chauhan, OP Babbar and Ramvir Singh Bidhuri). The Commission had only two members from BJP?Vijay Kumar Malhotra and OP Babbar. All others belonged to the Congress only.
Besides enjoying majority in the Commission, Delhi unit of Congress also formed an internal delimitation committee headed by Union Minister Kapil Sibal. Jagdish Tytler, Arvinder Singh Lovely, Ajay Maken, Sajjan Kumar, Krishna Tirath, Sandeep Dikshit, R.K. Anand, Ramakant Goswami, Jile Singh Chauhan, Chattar Singh and Harcharan Singh Josh were its member. This ?think tank? of Congress basically manipulated the whole exercise.
Apart from manipulating seats in favour of the Congress, the Congress ?think tank? also ensured that the seats of BJP heavyweights were either abolished or demographically changed to the extent that it became difficult for them to win. The seats of Delhi BJP president Dr Harsh Vardhan, Leader of Opposition Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, former state president Mange Ram Garg, Deputy Leader of Opposition SP Ratawal and senior leader Sahib Singh Chauhan who have been wining since 1993, were either abolished or converted into Congress strongholds.
Take the example of Dr Harsh Vardhan'sseat. More than 50 per cent areas of his traditional seat (Krishna Nagar) were deleted and areas from the Congress strongholds?Vishwash Nagar, Geeta Colony and Gandhi Nagar?were added. All these areas were being represented by the Congress leaders Nasib Singh, Dr Ashok Walia and Arvinder Singh Lovely respectively for the last 15 years. Today, this seat has over 30,000 Muslim votes and hardly any Muslim voted for BJP here. If we go deeper, it is found that in Taj Enclave, were there are 1,000 Muslim votes, around 560 of them voted this time. And 526 of them voted for Congress, 12 for BSP, which had fielded even a Muslim candidate and only 21 votes went to Dr Harsh Vardhan. Basically there was a conspiracy to defeat the state BJP chief in his own constituency. But that did not work.
In Janakpuri seat of Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, 54 new polling booths were added?30 from Congress MLA Mahabal Mishra'sseat, 9 from Mukesh Sharma's(another Congress MLA) seat and 16 from Harsharan Singh Balli'sseat. Demographically the seat now has Congress dominated areas. At Wazirpur seat of Shri Mange Ram Garg, 60 new polling booths were added?35 from Industry Minister Mangat Ram Singhal'sseat and 25 from another Congress MLA Anil Bhardwaj'sseat. Out of total 1,60,000 votes the seat now has more than 85,000 votes of Muslims, Jhuggi clusters and JJ colony dwellers who normally vote for the Congress. As a result, Shri Garg lost the seat to Congress.
The original Yamuna Vihar seat of Shri Shahib Singh Chauhan was abolished. There is a rule that the constituency be named after the area, which has largest number of voters. But in this case, the constituency was named after Ghonda which, has only 5,000 votes against 28,000 votes of Yamuna Vihar. The BJP dominated areas of this seat were added in Babarpur and Congress strongholds of Ghonda, Jagjit Nagar, Gautam Vihar, Khaddewali Masjid, Jaiprakash Nagar and Ambedkar Basti were added here. Similarly, the Sadar seat has totally been made a secure seat for the Congress. The Congress strongholds of Shastri Nagar, Inderlok, Kishanganj and some areas of Anand Parbat were added in this seat.
Now, have a look at the seats created for the Congress leaders. To ensure a safe victory for former DPCC president Rambabu Sharma the Congress strongholds of Nand Nagari, Welcome and Seelampur were added in his Rohtas Nagar seat and the seat was made like a ribbon, which is against all norms. Now see the arithmetic of Gandhi Nagar seat, which was won with the largest number of votes by Arvinder Singh Lovely. Disregarding the natural boundaries of historic GT Road, Railway line as well as Metro Rail line the areas of Seelampur and Buland Masjid, with 35,000 Muslim votes, were added in his seat to make it safe for Shri Lovely in an arbitrary manner.
The BJP had protested these irregularities at the time of draft publication of the delimitation report. It formed an expert committee involving senior party leaders who conducted deep study of all the 70 seats and submitted a detailed report to the Chairman of the Delimitation Commission. ?Unfortunately not a single suggestion of the BJP was accepted and the Commission finally notified what it had said in the draft,? said Shri Sahib Singh Chauhan, who was a member of BJP'sdelimitation committee.
?During the delimitation process, the Commission recognised Delhi as a single district whereas it is a State with a huge population divided into nine districts and 27 sub divisions. Factors like natural boundaries; equal distribution of population and the basic provision of delimitation regarding adjusting the people of one area in one constituency were completely neglected. By dividing many wards of Municipal Corporation into many parts, the different Assembly constituencies were divided resulting in the wards becoming irrelevant,? added Delhi BJP president Dr Harsh Vardhan.