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Heritage high on agenda

india Updated: Apr 22, 2009 00:29 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Kapil Sibal (60)

A high-profile lawyer, Kapil Sibal’s oratory skills and sharp intellect came in handy when he decided to join politics in the 90s. A skill that also landed him the job of Congress spokesperson between 1998 and 2004 and a ministerial berth in the Manmohan Singh government.

But this very quality also earned him the Opposition’s wrath who say he is more of a “television MP” and not a “people's MP”.

“In the past five years that he represented Chandni Chowk, one saw him more on television than in the constituency,” said his opponent and BJP candidate Vijender Gupta.

A charge Sibal furiously denies. “You will not find a single incident of an individual who has come to me for help and not having received attention. I have tried my best to meet the expectations of my constituents. I received 71.17% votes, which was the third highest percentage of votes received by an MP across India during the 2004 elections,” he said.

The 2004 win is impressive but his debut in politics was not. He first contested the Lok Sabha polls in 1996 from south Delhi and lost to BJP's Sushma Swaraj.

Protecting the heritage of Chandni Chowk and ensuring basic facilities to the residents are the main poll issues that Sibal will be focussing on.

He concedes traffic congestion is a major problem in Walled City but he has a solution. “The difficulty is that there is a wealth of heritage in this city as you dig. This poses a challenge in traffic management. So we will have to call for international experts to deal specifically with the parking issue that impacts the lives of the people. It may well be that the parking facility is made available a little distance from Chandni Chowk, without adversely impacting mobility.”