It is half past ten in the morning and DTC bus number 340 is all set to ferry passengers from Krishna Nagar in East Delhi to New Delhi, separated by a distance of almost 10 kilometres. Interestingly, these are the two assembly constituencies that would witness a major political battle in the upcoming Delhi assembly polls slated for February 7. As Aam Admi Party and Bharatiya Janta Party lock horns to claim majority for forming government in nation’s capital, their CM candidates Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal would be putting up a strong fight against each other from Krishna Nagar and New Delhi, respectively.
Meanwhile, as commuters board the bus from Krishna Nagar, they quickly purchase the tickets from the conductor before the driver pulls the first gear and heads towards the destination.
The bus is mostly occupied by people from the lower middle class. All of them want a paradigm shift in life. But while opening their hearts to iamin, they aren’t very articulate about what sort of change they are seeking and what sort of role can the government play in their lives.
Salem, a regular commuter on the Bus no 340, admires Kejriwal and AAP. He is visibly appalled by the recent Ghar Wapsi campaign by fringe right wing elements, and wants to vote for a ‘party that upholds Indian Constitution and work for the deprived.’ “We will vote for a party that does not discriminate against us, owing to our religion. AAP has been talking about issues and not religion,” he comments. Without naming any political party, he adds, “They talk about Ghar wapsi. Which home are they talking about? Our home is India; we do not need to convert to any other religion. For me nation comes first and then my religion.”
Unlike Salem, others travelling on the bus are more concerned about the issues ranging from water, electricity, security and other concerns of daily life. Varsha, 22 year old student, who travels to central Delhi everyday, entrusts her support in the AAP and its leader Kejriwal. “Women security is a major concern for Delhiites. Travelling in the buses like this is unsafe during nights for the women. All other parties have members who are themselves tainted, who have charges levelled against them. Kejriwal and his outfit AAP stands clean on this,” she proudly declares.
Reacting to her comments on women’s security, another lady seated on the backseat, raises her voice and puts her point across. “Kiran Bedi has been an administrator, and she knows how to deal with unsocial elements with high handedness. No one can make Delhi safe for women other than Kiran Bedi,” she raises her eyebrows while passing the verdict.
Meanwhile there are two passengers, who are travelling to New Delhi for medical reasons. One of them with small boils all over his face and body, shares, “We are going to meet a doctor, who specializes in skin infections. I went to Government hospital in east Delhi. Forget about proper treatment, they couldn’t even diagnose my disease. I have no other option but to go to a reclaimed doctor who will charge me thousands of rupees. I can’t afford that. But I have to visit him after borrowing money from friends. Kejriwal is the first one who talks about improving the conditions of the government hospital,” he points out.
Young boys sitting right behind their seat vouch for BJP and Modi. Vikas, an accountant in a private firm says, “We don’t support those who run away, we supported Kejriwal, the last time but he did not live up to his promises. There is no reason why we should support Kejriwal and AAP now.”
A couple of passengers are also Congress supporters who recall the development work undertaken by the Congress government to give a makeover to Delhi. Charan Pal Singh, a small scale business owner in East Delhi shares, “Sab havaon ki baat hoti hai ji,. log to congress ko bhool gayein, unhone kya nahi kiya tha Delhi ko banana ke liye (It’s all about the wave, Congress did everything it could to build Delhi, but no one remembers their effort).” However, the old man quickly confesses that he is himself not sure if he is going to vote for Congress.
“Since no Congress bigshot is contesting in my constituency in Krishna Nagar, I will vote for the party that stands with the poor and not talk about development while favoring the riches,” he remarks.
With his remark, the DTC bus reaches finally covers the distance from Kiran Bedi”s constituency to Kejriwal’s constituency. While others get off from the bus, the conductor, who kept smiling while listening to the debate, decided to break his silence and pointed to a Kejriwal poster at the bus stop. “He is my hero, and I with my entire family will vote for the leader who works for the poor and not just talks about them,” he proudly shares.
The diversity of views and the political debate erupting over idealogical differences and basic necessacities give a testimony to the interesting tussle that Delhi is set to witness in the coming days.
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