Wearing Congress caps and badges, youngsters came on motorbikes. Blushing village women arrived with their disinterested children. The elderly carried garlands, party flags. The pamphlets said: "Saadharan hai, damdar hai, hamara saansad asardaar hai."
Amid drum beats, sloganeering and honking of vehicles, East Delhi Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit briskly walked to Kotla Village in Mayur Vihar area. As he, surrounded by his enthusiastic supporters, started his padyatra on Wednesday evening, people garlanded him. Women from balconies showered him with rose petals. Others simply hugged the 49-year-old Congress leader.
When he halted in narrow lanes, locals fed him sweets, policemen took his photographs. There was a stampede-like situation when a man started free distribution of snacks. On the face of it, the two-term MP, son of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, has good support. But it may not be smooth sailing for him.
During the December 2013 Delhi elections, the Aam Aadmi Party won five of the 10 assembly seats in East Delhi Parliamentary constituency. AAP defeated Congress heavyweights in its strongholds of Laxmi Nagar, Jangpura and Kondli.
21-year-old Nitin Anand, a college student, part of the group following Dikshit, said, "This area comes under Trilokpuri assembly seat which was won by AAP. Since Congress only has two MLAs in this area, AAP candidate Rajmohan Gandhi, despite being tagged outsider, has a better chance." BJP's Mahesh Girri is pitted against these two from this parliamentary seat.
Traditionally, both Congress and BJP have represented this constituency. But AAP has changed equations. Dikshit is still confident. "Unlike assembly polls, parliamentary elections are fought on bigger issues. People in Delhi would judge me or any other candidate primarily on the basis of the work done. I'm sure I have done enough infrastructure development in my constituency for people to repose their faith in me."
On Wednesday, Dikshit met representatives of various Resident Welfare Associations in Aram Park near Laxmi Nagar market and roamed in parts of Krishna Nagar. He met residents in Trilokpuri area. Essentially, he visited Krishna Nagar and Trilokpuri, two assembly seats that Congress lost to BJP and AAP, respectively.