The Shiromani Akali Dal is banking on the Rajouri Garden seat to open its account in the Delhi assembly elections to be held on December 4.
It has fielded Manjinder Singh Sirsa, its Delhi youth wing president and general secretary of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) as its candidate.
Sirsa, the richest candidate in fray for the polls, has Congress' Dhanwanti Chandela as his rival. Chandela's husband Dayanand Chandela, a four-time MLA from the constituency, is not contesting this time as faces a criminal case.
Senior Congress leader HS Hanspal, who lives in the constituency, said, "It is actually Dayanand contesting the elections. He has a stronghold in the area and is supporting his wife. His son and daughter-in-law are councillors in the local civic body, so Sirsa is nowhere close."
The fact that Punjab revenue minister and Youth Akali Dal president Bikram Singh Majithia is election in-charge shows the SAD is leaving nothing to chance in this high-stake constituency. Besides Majithia, Punjab ministers, and SAD and BJP MPs and MLAs are campaigning in his favour. SAD president Sukhbir Badal and senior BJP leaders, including Punjab president Kamal Sharma, held a rally at Khyala village, Dayanand's stronghold.
Sirsa, who defeated DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna in the January 2012 DSGMC polls, has also been a councillor in the civic body from a ward in the Rajouri Garden.
Of the four constituencies on which the SAD candidates are contesting, at Rajouri Garden and Hari Nagar, they are contesting on the party symbol -- scales.
"It is a prestigious seat for us and we will open our account in Delhi by winning from this constituency," said Sirsa, who is confident of his chances. He is banking on the 41% Sikh population in the constituency. While Dayanand is banking on his connect with the voters.
Kuljit Nagra, Congress in-charge of Delhi state for elections, said, "We are confident here and it's one of the seats which we are counting as won. In Delhi, development is a big issue. A councillor here gets Rs 2 crore as development funds and the family has spent large funds in the area."
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to hold a rally here on December 2, the last day of campaigning.
Putting his best foot forward
Dayanand, meanwhile, has been walking barefoot seeking votes for his wife. It has been almost a week since Dayanand has been going barefoot saying he would not wear shoes till his wife was declared elected. Reacting to this, a SAD leader said, "The chances of his wife are bleak, that is why he is resorting to such gimmicks. He even cries in front of the voters and seeks their forgiveness, which is not required when you have actually worked for the people."