Gladiatorial contest in Okhla: Parvez Hashmi vs Amanatullah

NEW DELHI: The Okhla Assembly seat, a suburban colony in the South Delhi, has come up on the world map because of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest at Shaheen Bagh, which is part of the constituency and the epicentre of the protest. The seat is witnessing a triangular contest among the Congress, the AAP and the BJP, but it is the Congress and the AAP candidates, who are being seen as the gladiators.

The Congress has put faith on veteran Parvez Hashmi, a four-time MLA from the constituency before being elected to the Rajya Sabha. The seat was with the Congress till 2015 when the AAP”s Amanatullah wrested it after defeating Congress veteran Asif Mohammad Khan. The BJP has again given the ticket to Brahm Singh, but, since 1993 this seat has been held by a member from the minority community.

Parvez Hashmi was first elected in 1993 on Janata Dal ticket defeating the rival candidate from the Congress, in 1998 he switched side and won the seat again and was made Minister of Transport during Sheila Dikshit”s first tenure as the Delhi Chief Minister. Hashmi is largely credited with improving Public Transport system and switching to the CNG.

Hashmi is originally from Allahabad, but is a known face in the constituency. This time he is seeking votes for his work done during his tenure as the MLA when he “provided basic facilities in the area”. Hashmi said: “I have brought the basic amenity in the area and the Delhi Metro has been developed during the Congress regime.”

The AAP is focussing on the work done by the Kejriwal government in the area with many development works, including proper sewage system, clean drinking water and Mohalla Clinic.

AAP MLA Amanatullah said: “The Delhi government has done a lot of work in the area despite being the illegal colony. The Chief Minister has provided all amenities, including the CCTV, which has been installed in the area”. Amanatullah is chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, but has been in the news for the wrong reasons.

While the BJP never won the election, but in 2019 it was able to come second in the Okhla seat behind the Congress. But this time, the party is hoping to garner votes on the Modi factor and the regularisation of the colony, which comprises Aali Gaon, Jamia Nagar, Zakir Nagar and Shaheen Bagh. The only legal colony, prior to the regularisation announcement, were Sarita Vihar and Jasola Vihar, which are the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) colonies and part of the New Friends Colony.

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