A number of ministers, MPs and MLAs of the Shiromani Akali Dal have been camping in Delhi these days, making their party's presence felt in the Delhi assembly polls scheduled for December 4.
Despite the best efforts by the party cadres, victory in even one of the four constituencies on which the SAD is contesting will be welcome. "Victory in even one constituency is fine with us as we will manage to open our account here," a SAD leader said.
Practically, SAD is contesting on two seats as of the four seats allotted to it, as per the coalition arrangement, the SAD is contesting on two on its own symbol 'scales' and on the other two on the BJP's symbol 'lotus'.
Top leaders of the party, including patron Parkash Singh Badal and president Sukhbir Singh Badal, are addressing rallies in Delhi, especially in the four constituencies allotted to the SAD.
Said to be a party of Sikhs and peasants, the SAD is harping more on development and less on religion. Though the SAD won the DSGMC polls in January on the plank of giving representation to about 12 lakh Sikhs (8-9% of the total population) in the national capital, addressing rallies in Delhi now, the top SAD leaders cite development in Punjab.
Those contesting on the SAD symbol are Manjinder Singh Sirsa, DSGMC general secretary, from Rajouri Garden; and Shyam Sharma, a councillor, who joined the SAD three weeks ago, from Hari Nagar.
The two contesting on the BJP symbol are DSGMC members Harmeet Singh Kalka, joint secretary of DSGMC, from Kalkaji and Jatinder Pal Singh Shanty, a councillor, from Shahadra. Taking no chances, the SAD made them contest on the coalition partner's symbol, said an Akali leader.
Though Sukhbir Badal claims to be successful on all four seats, sources said Rajouri Garden and Shahadra were the best bets for the party.
Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia is in-charge of Rajouri Garden. Along with him, a number of SAD leaders, including ministers Gulzar Singh Ranike and Sarwan Singh Phillaur, and leaders, including former minister Hira Singh Gabria and former Punjab DGP PS Gill, are actively taking part in the elections.
In Hari Nagar and Kalkaji, SAD's candidates are opposed by three-time sitting MLAs. In Hari Nagar, Harsharan Singh Balli, sitting MLA of the BJP who was denied the ticket and joined the Congress is the Congress candidate, and in Kalkaji former DPCC president Subhash Chopra is giving a tough fight to Harmeet Kalka.
"We will not only open our account but will win on all four seats," said DSGMC president and SAD Delhi unit president Manjit Singh GK, who is in-charge of Kalkaji and Shahadra seats.
The SAD with the help of its cadres from Punjab has penetrated up to the booth level in all the four constituencies. As each assembly constituency has four wards of civic body, the SAD has deputed one senior leader as in-charge of each ward and 10 youth activists have been deputed on each polling booth to facilitate polling on December 4.
Akalis competing among themselves
Top SAD leaders who have been deputed in different constituencies are competing with one another to bring results for the party. SAD's Delhi affairs in-charge Balwant Singh Ramoowalia is in-charge of Hari Nagar and is supported by PWD minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon. Rural development and panchayats minister Surjeet Singh Rakhra is assisting GK in the Kalkaji seat. The DSGMC president is supported by former minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan in the Shahadra constituency. "Each of us has been told to outdo others and bring in results," Ramoowalia told HT.
No Akali campaign against Sajjan's son
The SAD has been crying hoarse against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for his alleged role in the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 but it has not campaigned against Sajjan's son Jagparvesh, who is contesting the polls from Sangam Vihar as a Congress candidate.