BJP WRAP-UP: Tightrope walk with the odds stacked against it
Delhi is not in the grip of election fever and both the BJP and the Congress face voter indifference. But in a bid to reverse its fortunes, the BJP has been campaigning more aggressively.Updated: Dec 01, 2003 08:54 IST
Surrounded by possessed drumbeaters, BJP candidates on their final rounds of padyatra on Saturday were beaming. After all, this cacophony — the symbol of a vibrant democracy — has not been easy to come by. Only the last five days of the two-week campaign saw people evincing interest in the battle.
"Unlike previous elections when we had a campaign period of 35 days, this time we had 12 days. Then too, the poll tempo built up to a crescendo only in the last five days,” said BJP’s campaign in-charge in Delhi V.K. Malhotra.
Delhi is not in the grip of election fever and both the BJP and the Congress face voter indifference. But in a bid to reverse its fortunes, the BJP has been campaigning more aggressively.
About 80 per cent of the BJP rallies were held this week but barring a few addressed by film stars, these events were poorly attended. For instance, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s two rallies on 20 November together attracted only about 7,000 and Deputy PM L.K. Advani's rallies also failed to pull in the crowds. But Malhotra says this is due to people hearing their leaders on television, sitting home.
Apart from dismal opinion polls in all sections of the media, party workers have been disheartened over ticket distribution in some seats.
This time round the BJP announced its candidates much before the Congress. As a result for almost a week BJP candidates could only speculate on who they would be up against. And how could they campaign not knowing the rival.
Party leaders also say by not holding shakhas for the past three years, the RSS has deprived BJP of its biggest, most vocal support base.
To avoid defeat, the BJP organised a very visible campaign, but fear of the Election Commission kept candidates from going overboard. And this fear of exceeding expenses has saved Delhi from the usual poster campaign and the consequent fisticuffs over putting up and tearing down posters. "For the first time, there weren’t any street fights on this,” said Malhotra.
BJP’s candidate in Kalkaji, Poornima Sethi, says “this campaign didn’t hamper normal life in any way. Thanks to the EC, there was no nuisance”.
So when the campaign came to an end at 5 p.m., Sushil, a resident of South Extension, wondered when it had begun.
First Published: Nov 30, 2003 17:52 IST