New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party’s Raghav Chadha was leading from Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar seat by 18,151 votes at 1.40 pm, according to the Election Commission website. The 31-year-old national spokesperson is one of the party’s youngest candidates and has been active in debates across TV channels.
While the results are yet to be officially declared, Chadha took to his Instagram account to share videos and photographs of celebration outside the counting station and thank the voters for their support.
Rajinder Nagar is a crucial seat for the AAP with the residents of the constituency not happy with the party’s sitting MLA Vijender Garg, who did not get AAP ticket this year.
This election, the constituency also saw two of the youngest candidates pitted against each other as Chadha was facing Congress’ Rocky Tuseed, a 25-year-old. His main rival was, however, BJP’s R.P. Singh (58).
Singh, who won from the area in the 2013 election, is a seasoned politician from the BJP.
Tuseed, a former Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) president, belongs to the Jat community.
For Chadha, who has been residing in a double-storey block in New Rajindra Nagar, this election was also a matter of prestige after he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from South Delhi constituency.
‘Rajinder Nagar ka beta’
Rajinder Nagar is a notable Vidhan Sabha constituency comprising 1,82,524 voters in all —1,04,290 men, 78,225 women and 9 transgender voters. AAP’s Vijender Garg won the seat in 2015 with 61,354 votes, while BJP’s R.P. Singh was the runner-up with 41,303 votes.
Raghav Chadha and Singh are both Punjabis, who constitute over 40 per cent of the population in Rajinder Nagar.
Chadha’s mother Alka Chadha proactively campaigned for him in the constituency. During his public meetings and padyatras, Chadha was often heard interacting with locals in Punjabi. AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and star campaigner Bhagwant Mann also held roadshows with him.
Chadha countered the opposition’s ‘outsider’ jibe by claiming that he was “Rajinder Nagar ka beta”. Chadha was also seen touching the feet of aged women, a gesture symbolic of respect for elders in the Punjabi community.
The former chartered accountant maintained that he lived in areas like Pandav Nagar and Karol Bagh all his life. He was born in Ganga Ram hospital, located in the same constituency, a point he noted in several public meetings to build familiarity with the voters. “I have been given an opportunity to make my birthplace my workplace,” he said.
From padyatras to roadshows to small nukkad meetings, Chadha’s campaign in Rajinder Nagar was among the few that got special attention. Sources in IPAC, election strategist Prashant Kishor’s firm that collaborated with the AAP for Delhi elections, told ThePrint that a larger number of volunteers were distributed in Chadha and Atishi’s constituencies.
Chadha had a constituency-specific manifesto focusing on sewage and water woes. His team of volunteers also distributed calendars and customised badges to the households they visited while seeking votes.