Congress too joins the battle
Some kilometres from the Ramlila Maidan where the Bharatiya Janata Party kicked off its campaign for the Delhi Assembly elections, the Congress party staged its show of strength at Jantar Mantar.Updated: Sep 01, 2008, 00:17 IST
Some kilometres from the Ramlila Maidan where the Bharatiya Janata Party kicked off its campaign for the Delhi Assembly elections, the Congress party staged its show of strength at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.
Both were wooing the 40lakh voters residing in the capital’s unauthorised colonies, which they are promising to regularise.
While the BJP rally counted the presence of the party top brass, the crowd-pullers in the Congress rally were Outer Delhi MP Sajjan Kumar and Hastsal MLA Mukesh Sharma.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit or other Delhi Congress leaders were neither present or were talked about.
Slogans praising Congress President Sonia Gandhi were raised at regular intervals, however.
“We did not want a leaders’ meeting,” Sharma said. It was a meeting of people living in the unauthorised colonies to show they support the party, he added.
He said the ‘mahapanchayat’, or grand gathering, was not meant to be a show of strength.
Both the Congress leaders tried to push the point that the party had been trying to regularise these colonies and a decision had finally been taken.
Sharma said the BJP was trying to mislead the people because residents of unauthorised colonies were with the Congress. “The Congress government has amended the Master Plan by notifying the change in land use of agricultural land into residential use,” Sajjan Kumar said.
He said the BJP never had a base among the poor of the capital.
In a bid to woo the capital’s sizeable and increasingly electorally important Bihari population, Kumar said the BJP had conspired in the past to evict migrants coming from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh by closing factories.
“They have been giving assurance for a long time and I hope our colonies are finally regularised,” said Phoolchand, a resident of Tilak Vihar in west Delhi.
Phoolchand was part of the more than 10,000-strong crowd that braved the scorching sun to sit through the meeting.
As the crowd started thinning, an effigy of the BJP was burnt.