Message from Ghaziabad seat
In the midst of the euphoria over the smashing victory of Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) across 282 seats in the polls for the 16th Lok Sabha, there has been little micro-level analysis of the seats won by the party and the margins of its victory on these seats. In this context it would be most interesting to pick-up the case of Ghaziabad for a study for three significant reasons – the composition of electorate, stature of candidates and possibilities of polarisation.
In addition to this, Ghaziabad also stood out for giving a decisive victory with BJP candidate former chief of army staff General V K Singh winning the seat with a margin of 5.67 lakh votes. The General’s victory margin is just 3,000 less that the record shattering lead established by Narendra Modi over his nearest rival at his home turf of Vadodra in Gujarat. All rivals of the General forfeited their deposit. Composition: Ghaziabad parliamentary constituency located on the eastern margin of the national Capital has five assembly segments – Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Loni, Dhaulana and Muradnagar. Of these Sahibabad is a completely urban segment as four modern residential colonies – Kaushambi, Vaishali, Vasundhara and Indirapuram are located here.
The electoral profile of these colonies, full of high rise modern apartments, is cosmopolitan with at least 80 percent of its residents being part of the social and economic dynamics of the national Capital. No wonder the Anna Hazare movement has its genesis here as Aam Aadmi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas and Manish Sisodia are residents of these colonies. The Ghaziabad segment is also urban but not metropolitan like Sahibabad and is dominated by the trading community, Ghaziabad’s original urban elite. The remaining three segments of Loni, Murad Nagar and Dhaulana are rural but prosperous areas served by robust agrarian economy and also rise of realty sector.
Candidates: Ghaziabad in the 15th Lok Sabha was represented by BJP national president Rajnath Singh. However, in the 2012 assembly polls party put up a miserable show losing on all the five segments forcing Rajnath Singh to change seat to Lucknow. Thus it became an open constituency with all the parties putting up formidable candidates. While V K Singh represented BJP, AAP forwarded its top woman leader Shazia Ilmi, Congress pitted three-time MP and known Bollywood name Raj Babbar, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mukul Upadhya and Samajwadi Party’s Sudhan Rawat too have firm footing in state politics. Polarisation: One of the major defence being put-up by the rival parties for the resounding performance of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh winning 73 out of 80 seats, is that post-Muzzafarnagar riots there was polarisation on communal lines. There is Muslim presence in all segments in Ghaziabad with the communities’ presence formidable in Loni, Ghaziabad and Sahibabad segments. The other communities who could be mobilised on caste lines are the Dalits, who have presence on all the seats. The BSP had done very well here in 2012 polls.
Voting trend: The biggest take away from the voting pattern in Ghazaiabad is that young, educated and urban electorate voted in en bloc for the BJP. They were spurred on two counts – national leadership represented by a time-tested administrator and communicator par excellence Narendra Modi and the local candidate of high stature Gen V K Singh, who once headed the organisation which continues to be the most credible Indian brand – The Indian Army.
V K Singh got more than 50 percent votes polled. The biggest support for him came from the metropolitan Sahibabad segment where Singh with 2.59 lakh votes led his nearest rival Raj Babbar of the Congress by 2.10 lakh votes. For Shazia Ilmi of AAP, despite the segment being her party’s home turf, the rejection was complete coming third. Over all she came 5th, putting up most pathetic performance in Dhaulana segment where she managed less than 2,500 votes. Notably polling percentage in Sahibabad segment was much higher than the other four segments.
The General overall managed 7.58 lakh votes, getting more than the double the number of votes polled by his party president Rajnath Singh in 2009. This also reflects that rise in polling percentage totally went in favour of the BJP as it more than doubled its votes whereas others either maintained status quo in the case of number of votes polled or their numbers came down marginally. Ghaziabad’s result should be compared with other ‘metropolitan’ seats of the national Capital region like Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon rather than Delhi. The national Capital still has a huge ‘indigenous’ population and the migrant population of Delhi largely resides in the unauthorised colonies. Though there is a segment of ‘corporate-Indian’ population but electorally they are not dominant.
Conclusion: The realty boom in the NCR towns of Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon has created hubs of a youthful corporate India, which greatly influenced the voting in these elections. These sentiments even echoed on seats like Bangalore South but the margin was not that as high as Ghaziabad as the apolitical face in contest – Nandan Nilekani – was in the camp of the discredited Congress party. The message from Ghaziabad is that there is huge scope for apolitical persons in politics. The political parties would only add to their arsenal by having these people on board as they bring value with their personal reputation in the form of rising number of votes. V K Singh managed such a high score as he got votes for the party, for himself and for the organisation he headed.
The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting
Editor, Millennium Post
Editor, Millennium Post