By –Moonis Ahmad & Kinley Tshering

As the mercury drops in Delhi, the election fever is on the rise. The capital’s Okhla constituency is gyrating to the tunes of several candidates offering early New Year gift in the form of promises.

For 70 assembly seats in Delhi, 875 candidates are running. The congress which ruled the roost for the last two terms in Okhla is already feeling the heat. Several candidates from across major parties political parties are running for the election.

Dr S.A Muneem Pasha, a faculty in the department of political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, says that there are several issues that will decide the election’s outcome. “Incumbency, price rice, regularization of colonies and the alleged terrorist encounter are some dominant issues that will affect Congress,” he feels.

The competition for the Okhla constituency is tough with claims and counter-claims among the candidates. “The area was in the news for all the wrong reasons after the alleged terrorist encounter. There is huge disgruntlement amongst the people here,” says Wasif Sattar, a development sector professional living in Okhla.

The incumbent Congress MLA, Parvez Hashmi, is hoping to win the next term on the grounds of development work. He feels that congress has always been the welfare party and will come out victorious.

A potential challenge to the supremacy of congress is being seen in the form of Wasim Ahmad Gazi, who is trying his luck on the Samajwadi party ticket. He feels that the people of Okhla are simply fed up with the present MLA. “He (the present MLA) is unapproachable and in the recent furor around the encounter killing, his true face was exposed,” says Gazi. “He is biased and didn’t even speak of justice for the purported L 18 encounter.”

Raza haidar, contesting on the CPI (M) Candidature, has several arguments to put forth. He argues that Congress has always been anti poor and a party which believes in giving fringe benefits to the minorities. “The recent encounter of suspected terrorists needs serious attention. The sitting MLA from congress didn’t take any stand on the controversy surrounding it. Price rise will also kill its chances,” he says.

Kamran Siddiqui, an independent electoral candidate, has several grouses from the present MLA. “Congress has defied the cause of Muslims who are time and again betrayed. The recent encounter killing of suspected terrorists had placed the Okhla neighborhood on the back foot. Whether it is Babri Masjid or L-18, Muslims have always been targeted and victimized in the name of terrorism.” he says.

Another theory which is doing the round is about how Bhartiya Janata party is aiming to capitalize on the split in the Muslim vote bank. “Congress is spreading this phobia amongst the Muslims in order to garner support,” feels Asad khan, a computer engineer with CSC. Asad, a congress loyalist is planning to exercise a different choice this time. The BJP candidate Surenda Bidhuri is working on his campaign by highlighting on terrorism and security, along with price rise. The delimitation of constituency by the election commission will work to his advantage. Similar views are held by Bahujan Samaj party candidate, Brahm Singh.

Vikas Shukla, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia and a local resident feels that the encounter issue will dictate the electoral results in this area. “I want the best candidate to win so that the grievances of Okhla residents are heard,” adds Vikas.

The results that will be declared after December 8 will decide the outcome of this area and of the party which will celebrate New Year in pomp and style. Till then it is congress versus the rest.