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Cong.’s Agarwal banks on personal connect to win Chandni Chowk

INDCong.’s Agarwal banks on personal connect to win Chandni Chowk

At 79, Congress’ Chandni Chowk candidate Jai Prakash Agarwal is contesting his 12th election and he is the oldest among those fielded by the Capital’s main political parties for the Lok Sabha poll.

In a political career spanning over four decades, the lifelong Congressman has been elected to the lower house of Parliament four times.

The Congress veteran says he was first elected as a councillor in 1983 on the party ticket.

A year later, he won the Lok Sabha contest from Chandni Chowk in a general election held in the aftermath of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from the constituency two times more in 1989 and 1996, the last time he represented the seat.

Mr. Agarwal faced defeat in the 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2019 general elections.

Due to his successive defeats, Mr. Agarwal was denied a ticket in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll and replaced by Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk. However, Mr. Agarwal was elected to the Rajya Sabha the same year. He contested from North East Delhi twice, winning in 2009 and losing in 2014.

Political legacy

Going down memory lane, Mr. Agarwal says this year’s Lok Sabha poll is the 20th election being contested by a member of his family. The leader says before him, his father Ram Charan Agarwal, who served as the first Deputy Mayor of Delhi in 1958, contested eight municipal elections.

About his poll preparations, the leader says campaigning is like clockwork for him. “It has become a habit over the years. If you have planned your day right, everything falls into place,” says the leader who believes in meticulously planning his days.

He says these days election canvassing is easier when compared with old times.

“Back in those days, the canvassing stretched for longer hours as there was no social media and mobile phones. Once you stepped out of your house, there was no telling when you would return,” he says. 

‘More than just seat’

This time, he is banking on his personal equation with the area as Mr. Agarwal says Chandni Chowk is more than a constituency for him.

“It is the place where I used to play cricket as a child in its narrow lanes amid old buildings, some of these over 200 years old,” he says.

Mr. Agarwal says the area was never as brightly lit as today but it always remained the “heart of the city”.

He also slams the BJP’s Delhi MPs for ignoring all constituencies of the city, especially Chandni Chowk.

“If you go through the records of parliamentary proceedings, you will see that they never raised questions about the city in Parliament. What does this show?” he says.

The leader claims that he had “raised over a thousand queries” related to the city when he served as the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MP during the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre from 2004-14.

Plan for constituency

Mr. Agarwal says Chandni Chowk has always been a thickly populated commercial hub surrounded by heritage buildings, which need to be redeveloped. “We can’t change a settled city, we can only improve it,” he says.

He also expressed his faith in the tie-up between the Congress and AAP in Delhi, saying the BJP’s conduct at the Centre brought both parties together. “Issues such as [Delhi Chief Minister] Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest brought us together,” he adds.

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