Election 2019

From airstrikes to sealing: Matters that pushed voters in Delhi

From cross-border terrorism to sealing of commercial establishments, Delhi on Sunday came out to vote for a huge variety of reasons. During the campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s main plank was national security while the Aam Aadmi Party had sought votes for getting Delhi the status of a full state. The Congress showcased works done by the party’s government in Delhi.

The choice of matters varied with economic background, neighborhoods, gender and age group of the voter.

While waiting for their turn outside the polling booth in east Delhi’s Khichripur village polling station, Nikesh Sharma, a businessman, and his friends were discussing how the Balakot air strike changed the political discourse in this elections. “This election is about national security. By doing the air strike at Balakot, the government has given a befitting reply to Pakistan,” stated Sharma.

Shubhankar Rai, 19, a resident of GK-II that falls in the New Delhi segment, said he voted for India to be “a stronger country” globally. “The task is to choose the lesser of the two evils. I feel India, at present, needs a strong leader. Two things stand out as the boldest steps by the current PM – demonetization and the Balakot airstrike,” he stated.

For the traders in Chandni Chowk, demonetisation, roll out Goods and Services Tax and the sealing drive were the main concerns even though they felt national security was an equally important issue. However, opinions were divided in the order of priority. “Business has never as bad as it has been in the past five years. Profit margin has been reduced to only 10-15%. The economy needs to be revived,” stated Mohammad Tazir, who owns a crockery business in the area.

In Amar Colony market, which comes under the New Delhi seat, voters said they want the ongoing sealing drive to stop and their shops de-sealed. At least 400 shops were sealed in this market which was among 7,000 commercial units that have faced action in Delhi since December 2017.

Cheshtha Dung, 27, who runs a general store at Amar Colony market stated they had kept their shop shut for more than a month “merely out of fear” at the peak of sealing drive. “Others might be voting for the country’s betterment or safety in this election, but for us, it is only to get relief from sealing. My father had got so scared of the drive that he forced us to shut this shop and had called workers to dismantle the top floor. Now, we have reconstructed the whole thing afresh,” she said.

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