As the campaign for the Delhi assembly elections is in full swing, one thing looks clear: Delhi is not at all keen to give a fair deal to lakhs of non-Hindi speaking people of the capital. The three major parties -- AAP, BJP and Congress -- have not given a ticket to any Bengali, Tamil, Malayali, Gujarati or any other non-Hindi speaking person.
Can you imagine, since the first Delhi assembly elections that were held in 1951, it has elected only one Malayali and one Bengali to the assembly? While Praful Ranjan Chatterjee was elected from the then Reading Road seat -- it is now part of the New Delhi constituency -- on a Congress ticket in 1951, Meera Bhardwaj, a Malayali married to a local person, won from Patparganj seat in 1998.
Will anybody in the three big parties in the capital enlighten us on why they do not consider non-Hindi speaking people as their candidates in Delhi? There are several areas in Delhi where "their" votes can tilt the scales. For instance, Chittaranjan Park, Minto Road, Mahavir Enclave, Tagore Park and many more areas have a sizable population of Bengal-speaking voters.
Perhaps not many people would be aware of the fact that outside West Bengal, the largest number of Bengali medium schools is in Delhi -- there are seven of them. Meanwhile, Dilshad Garden, Mayur Vihar and Janak Puri have already emerged as the bastions of Malayali power. You can buy copies of 'Mathrubhumi' and 'Malayala Manorama' from newspaper vendors in these areas.
Tamils are a big force in Karol Bagh, Rohini, R.K. Puram and several other areas. Delhi's Tamil community has given some really well-known names in the world of cinema and sport too. For instance, Ramanathan Krishnan, an ace Tennis player and Davis cupper of yesteryear is from Gole Market. The Gujarati community in Delhi has a big presence in Ragubir Nagar in west Delhi, parts of East Delhi and in the Civil Lines area.
Arguably, Delhi was more diverse and open to accepting leaders from non-Hindi speaking states in the past. C.K. Nair, a Malayali, was elected from the Outer Delhi Lok Sabha seat in 1952 and 1957 respectively. He was known as Gandhi of rural Delhi. In the 1980 Lok Sabha polls, Congress fielded C.M. Stephen from the New Delhi seat against Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee. C.M. Stephen used to address his meetings in Malayalam and had given a tough fight to the BJP leader, but lost by a very small margin. In the 80s, Shanti Desai, a Gujarati, was a top Jan Sangh/BJP leader in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). He even remained a Mayor of Delhi.
But for these small examples, Delhi has never given much of a chance to people from non-Hindi speaking states to contest from MCD to assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
Even in the 2017 MCD elections, it was clearly and conclusively proved that though Delhi is the national capital, it is very inward-looking. It does not think beyond Hindi-speaking states when choosing its corporators .
Sadly, Delhi prefers to elect only true 'Delhiwallas', or those who originally hail from various north Indian states. One can scan through the list of winners of the 2017 MCD elections to gauge the fact that all the 270 winners are either from Delhi or have some Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana connection. Very few from Madhya Pradesh or Chattishgarh got elected to MCD.
If you compare the winners of MCD elections with those who were elected to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC) poll in Mumbai in 2017, you can see the difference. Almost one-third of the corporators elected to BMC were non-Marathis. This is remarkable when compared with Delhi. In the 227-member corporation, 72 are non-Marathis, up from the 61 who were elected in 2012. Of these, 26 are Muslims, 24 Gujaratis, 14 North Indians, five South Indians and three Christians. The BJP has sent the highest number of non-Marathi members to the corporation -- 36 in all, including 23 Gujaratis, 12 North Indians and one south Indian.
For the first time, the Shiv Sena sent a Muslim candidate to the corporation. As far as Shiv Sena candidates are concerned, three south Indians and one north Indian got elected. Among the Congress members, there are nine Muslims, three Christians and one north Indian. Six of the nine Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) representatives are Muslims.
In Mumbai, the BJP was very generous in giving tickets to non-Marathis. And it reaped the benefits of their positive strategy. Altogether, 36 non-Marathi candidates won their elections. Among them, 23 are Gujaratis, 12 North Indians and one is from South India. Same BJP changes when comes to Delhi.
That Mumbai society celebrates diversity is evident as you can read the names of some of their BMC members such as Shiv Kumar Mishra, Thevar Mariammal Mathuramlingan, Vini Fred D'souza, Kamlash Yadav, Sri Kala Pillai and Shiv Kumar Jha. That shows how Mumbai society is vibrant. They have certainly a pan-India character.
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