The election season in Delhi's Hari Nagar assembly constituency has all the thrilling elements and changing winds to make a political potboiler.
This story of aide's superseding master and turning his rival is a complete poll scene in one: of turncoats, vendetta, mudslinging, switching symbols, stealing agenda, and top leaders' throwing themselves at the voters' doors.
The plot was made about 10 days ago when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) denied ticket to four-time legislator Harsharan Singh Balli (66). He jumped to the rival Congress, which named him candidate.
Pieces shuffled, the battle of Hari Nagar was a new game and top-draw suddenly. "The BJP denied me ticket because I supported Tejinder Singh Bhatia during the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee elections last year and he got elected. Alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal wanted me out of the BJP at all cost," said Balli, introducing SAD patron and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal as director of this scene.
However, there's some who thinks Balli is the negative character. "Balli is a turncoat. The BJP supported him for 20 years; and on one occasion when it looked for new candidate, he jumped to the Congress," said Shyam Sharma (45), Akali-BJP candidate who was covering for Balli in the previous three contests.
He was made to join the SAD from BJP to be able to fight on the Akali symbol of scales. "When Balli met with an accident. I looked after his entire work, and he praised me for that," said Sharma, who now says Balli no longer has the health to work as legislator.
"He was always an outsider in the BJP, as he always favoured Congressmen," Sharma further said, trying to match the candidate he used to cover. "Now what face will he show to Sikhs, whom he blackmailed emotionally in name of 1984 riots? Will he now support Sajjan Kumar's son, Jagparvesh, in Sangam Vihar?" asked Sharma.
Balli preferred to remain silent on the issue. "I am leaving for a meeting with (Delhi) chief minister Sheila Dixit," he excused himself, adding that he had come home after many years. About 22 years ago, Balli was president of the Delhi Youth Congress. Sharma is harping on the issue of the lack of development in the constituency, while Balli said it was the surge of development that would make him victorious again.
As the SAD-BJP has made Hari Nagar a prestige seat, top leaders on both sides, including BJP's (leader of opposition in Lok Sabha) Sushma Swaraj; SAD's (Punjab CM) Parkash Singh Badal; and (Delhi CM) Sheila Dixit of the Congress have campaigned in the constituency already. Balli is trying to bring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to a rally here on Friday.
More than 1.47-lakh voters will decide on December 4 who's a hit and who's a flop but political scene here is a must-watch.
Congress also deploys big guns
As top Akali leaders are in Delhi in big numbers to support their candidates, the Congress has sent former Punjab chief ministers Captain Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa down for campaigning. "The party has elaborate programme for all senior leaders from Punjab," Congress legislator Kuljit Nagra, party's man in charge of Delhi, said on Wednesday.