Women’s safety tops the chart among the major issues confronting Delhi as it readies to vote for a new government Feb 7.
Most of the more than a dozen residents IANS spoke to said the safety and security of women in the capital would have to be addressed first by whoever wins the election. Rising food prices, chaotic traffic and the need for uninterrupted water supply and electricity are the other problems people say they are bothered about.
Prashant Rao, an art teacher with a prominent school, summed up the majority mood: “Incidents of rape, loot and murders have become common. And women are soft targets in Delhi.”
He said with more and more women going to work, they frequently suffer sexual assaults. “I want the new government to provide a crime-free city.”
Deeti Gupta, 24, agreed. “Women should be taken care of. They need to go out for studies, work and other things. But with rapes reported every other day, it scares me.”
S.S. Ranga, an officer with All India Radio, and Mukesh Sharma, a Delhi government school teacher, also stressed the need to ensure women’s security in the city of over 17 million.
“Rape cases don’t seem to be coming down,” he said, adding infrastructure, especially cheap housing for the common man, and public transport were other important issues.
Shalini, a student from Bihar residing in Delhi, says she is vigilant when she steps out because of the security situation in the city, more so at night.
There are other issues, including sanitation, which voters say would require the government’s attention. “People defecate in public and authorities should do more to address this problem,” said Deeti Gupta, who is preparing to go abroad for studies. “Otherwise the problem would go out of hand.”
Corruption was another issue everyone spoke about, but most felt that women’s safety was the biggest concern. Both the BJP and the AAP admit that women’s safety is indeed a major concern among voters.
“Yes, that is true,” said Harish Khurana, a BJP spokesman in Delhi. AAP’s Atishi Marlena told IANS: “Women’s security and unemployment are the most important issues among the people.”
So who is best suited to solve Delhi’s problems?
Opinion was divided, with those polled seemingly divided between the BJP and the AAP. No one had anything to say about the Congress. Gupta felt the AAP would be best suited to rule Delhi. “Only AAP can do it as (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi cannot take up every local issue.”
School teacher A. Sharma echoed the sentiment. “AAP is close to me, it’s close to everybody... They are like us. They successfully controlled price rise and corruption last time. They will do it again.”
Ranga, however, feels that the BJP is the better bet for Delhi, more so with Modi in command nationally. “The BJP will form the next government in Delhi. I expect them to do well by addressing concerns of young women.”
Autorickshaw driver Ram Kishan, 57, too is for the BJP, saying only that party understands the concerns of the poor.
Vegetable vendor Shankar has a unique desire. He wants the new government to ensure the education of poor children. “Any new government must encourage children to study instead of joining their parents at work.”