New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) With construction business booming in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area, the stakes are high for the builders in the upcoming civic by-poll.
No wonder then that the four main contenders in the May 15 by-poll in the Ballimaran ward are either builders themselves, associated with the activity or supported by builders. By-polls would also be held in 12 other wards in Delhi.
The main contenders are Mohammed Sadiq from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Obaid Khan from the Congress, Nitin Tiwari from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Mohammed Qazzafi, an independent. There are a few other players in the fray.
Sadiq is the brother-in-law of AAP minister and local MLA Imran Husain. The Ballimaran seat was vacated when the then councillor, Husain, got elected to the Delhi assembly in 2015.
Husain, who defeated Congress’s Haroon Yusuf in the assembly election, is known to have made his fortune through construction business.
The Congress, which is contesting the election with all its might, has been levelling allegations against Husain and others.
“It’s the reign of builder mafia here. And we are not the only one saying this. Most of the residents here are saying so,” former Delhi minister Yusuf, who is spearheading the Congress campaign in Ballimaran, said.
Referring to the sting video released by his party a few months back where a person is seen asking for extortion money from a local builder allegedly on behalf of Imran Husain, Yusuf said: “Even the Delhi High Court has asked Arvind Kejriwal as to why CBI inquiry should not be initiated against Imran Husain in the sting video case.”
Ironically, Congress candidate Obaid Khan is also associated with building activities. So is the case with the BJP’s Tiwari.
But both parties are denying their association with builders.
“Our candidate is a dedicated Congress worker. He has been a social worker and is a nice human being,” Yusuf replied when asked about the credentials of the Congress candidate.
Former BJP MLA R.P. Singh, who is the party’s election in-charge for civic by-polls, had similar things to say when prodded about BJP candidate’s credentials.
“Nitin Tiwari is a property dealer, not a builder. There is a difference between the two,” Singh said, adding, “Tell me, what is Ajay Maken’s business? If you don’t know, try to find out.”
Independent candidate Mohammed Qazzafi is the brother-in-law of former AAP minister and Jama Masjid MLA Asim Ahmed Khan and is being supported by him. He too happens to be a builder.
“Qazzafi is being promoted by Asim Ahmed Khan and a local builder named Shaheen Chaudhary. While Asim apparently wants to avenge the loss of his ministry to Imran, Chaudhary too wants to settle political scores with Imran whom he had supported in the previous civic elections,” said a local who did not wish to be named.
Despite repeated attempts, Husain did not respond to phone calls by IANS.
(Asim Khan can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)