It's been five years since former Congress MP Mahabal Mishra held power in West Delhi. Last Saturday, he returned to the villages of Najafgarh, pitting his achievements against that of sitting BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh and branding him as a "park and bench waala MP", who "plays badminton and spends time on Facebook". In contrast, Mishra said he was the "son of the soil", who gave the area Metro and hospitals.
He was armed with a two-page pamphlet, carrying news clippings of the Metro link to Najafgarh and photos of him with Manmohan Singh, Sheila Dikshit and Pranab Mukherjee.
Around 40-odd men gathered at Dichao Kalan village, while three youngsters stood at the back. Once notorious for property-related disputes that spiralled into gang-related killings, the village has shed its violent tag of late and yearns for basic facilities - including roads and last-mile connectivity.
"In 2009, you chose me. I met Pranab Mukherjee and Delhi Metro officials to bring the Metro closer to you," Mishra said.
When he started talking about the work he did in Janakpuri, Mishra was interrupted by a youth. "What have you done for the village? We don't want to hear about the big city," he shouted. The boy was shouted down by Mishra's supporters, and the former MP promptly wrapped up his visit, saying: "Mahabal Mishra tumhara dost tha, hai, aur rahega."
Ten minutes from Dichao Kalan, Mishra stood atop stairs of a temple in Jharoda Kalan. "Compare my achievements with that of Parvesh… What infrastructure has he given to this village?" he asked. This time, too, the crowd of 30 barely had any youth. The village has a largely Jat population, and Mishra spoke about how Jats got placed in the Delhi Police and got government jobs during Dikshit's tenure as CM.
He never mentioned his AAP competitor, Balbir Jakhar. "He is no competition. This is a fight between a former MP who did work and the 'bench waala MP'. There is a North and South campus (in DU); I will make a West campus," he told The Indian Express.
Mishra's cavalcade then made its way to Surakhpur, known as Delhi's first digital payment-enabled village. This time, some youngsters stood behind, as older men sat next to Mishra. "Your MP has not come even once and I have come more than 10 times to your village. Is this not true? Sukh dukh ka saathi hoon main," Mishra told them.
He said he is seeking votes for his work, unlike Singh who is invoking the PM's name. But DU student Jai Singh said: "This is a digital village, but it takes two hours to get to college. West campus is good… but if we have to depend on water tankers in this day and age, then what can be said."