Never Seen our MP, Meenakshi Lekhi: Residents of Parvatiya Camp
Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya & Abhinav Bhardwaj
Standing on the edge of his door, Rajbir Kumar points to an open drain flowing right outside his light blue house. “This drain overflows every third day when septic tanks of the community toilets are emptied,” he rues.
The emptying of septic tanks, he says, fills the drain with overflowing human waste – the sight and smell of which becomes so unbearable that one has to keep the doors shut. But that, too, doesn’t prevent the foul smell from seeping into the house.
Rajbir’s house is just one among the many that line the open drain in the lower part of Parvatiya slum, located in Delhi’s RK Puram, which falls under the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat presently occupied by the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi. Rajbir’s neighbour Vimla says that multiple promises have been made, including the inauguration of a concrete sewage system, but none have been fulfilled. The result, she adds, “is that children often fall sick.”
Bad Schools & No Jobs
Although most children in this south-Delhi slum go to the government school in sector 4 of RK Puram, many can’t even read a book even after reaching the fifth grade, says Laxmi.
While residents allege that the quality of education in government schools is poor, financial constraints explain their inability to get their children admitted into private schools.
“We don't earn enough to afford private schools. We don't have enough money to buy food. We are poor people. They ask between Rs 2.5, Rs 3, Rs 5 and Rs 10 lakhs. How can we pay such an amount?” says Ramkali, who works as a domestic help.
The combination of poor schooling and lack of encouragement back at home means that most students drop out of school after the eighth grade. But even for those who defeat all odds to complete a basic college education, getting a decent job becomes difficult.
“Students don’t get jobs, even after completing graduation. The government must pay attention to this problem. There’s been an increase in unemployment. Educated youths are sitting idle at home. Some get into drugs and alcohol. If the youth get government or private jobs, then they don’t have to wander aimlessly. I have completed graduation but am struggling to get a job. There are many like me here.”Parvez, Resident
No Mohalla Clinic Nearby
Apart from the absence of proper sanitation, education and jobs, residents in Parvatiya camp claim that there are no government health clinics in the vicinity. “Each time we fall sick, we have to run to Safdarjung hospital, where the waiting at OPDs is really long,” says Sunita.
Moreover, the lack of street lamps prevents women from venturing out after dark, as they fear the growing presence of drug addled jobless men in the camp.
Who Will They Vote for in 2019?
Bahadur, a resident, says he has never seen their MP Meenakshi Lekhi in his entire life. “During elections, all leaders come for a stroll here. We have only heard of Meenakshi Lekhi, but have never seen her face in real life. Our MLA is from AAP and our MP is from BJP,” he says.
When asked who the residents of Paravatiya camp will vote for, most residents shied away from providing a clear answer. Bahadur, for instance agrees that neither the BJP nor the AAP have done any work for them, yet when asked if their only option then remains the Congress, he replies “maybe.”
Roopa feels that out of all the governments, the Congress has worked the best. According to her, Delhi Chief Minister “Arvind Kejriwal only makes tall claims, but in reality, has not worked for the betterment of slums in the city.” PM Modi on the other hand, she claims, “has made several people jobless, through his government’s implementation of GST and demonetisation.” She, however, steers clear of a definitive answer.
Ramkali, on the other hand, says that she is sure about the lotus. When pointed out that the BJP MP hasn’t visited the slum even once, she quickly adds that the “BJP works, but it takes some time for the results to show.” Her companion Sunita, adds that she will either “vote for the AAP or the BJP.”