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Delhi campaign into last week; parties race against time

Delhi political parties are poised to unleash their star campaigners in a last-ditch effort to woo voters.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2003 11:04 IST

As electioneering in Delhi enters the last lap, political parties are poised to unleash their star campaigners in a last-ditch effort to woo the electorate.

BJP, which is making an all-out effort to regain power in the national capital after five years, has taken a lead in the campaign trail, like release of lists of candidates and manifesto.

The party has already held over 200 public meetings, including the two addressed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and scheduled scores of others to be addressed by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, party chief M Venkaiah Naidu and other senior leaders over the next week.

BJP candidates have also roped in candidates who have also roped in small-screen stars including 'bahu' Smriti Z Irani and Aman Verma of TV soap opera 'Kyun ki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi'.

Film-star members of BJP Vinod Khanna, Dara Singh, Shatrughan Sinha and Hema Malini are also due to add glamour to the poll campaign for the battle to capture majority in the 70-member Delhi Assembly.

Congress was not only late in releasing the names of its candidates but also in issuing its manifesto and launching campaign in full steam.

The party is yet to announce the campaign schedule of its chief Sonia Gandhi for Delhi although she has been addressing rallies in the other three states going to polls.

Even as poll projections favour Congress, BJP is seeking to corner the ruling party by highlighting its alleged "failures" particularly in power, water, education and healthcare sectors.

"We will be highlighting the corruption in the government about which we have already presented a chargesheet before the people," BJP General Secretary VK Malhotra said.

Agitated by the surveys, Delhi BJP president and party's Chief Ministerial candidate Madan Lal Khurana even threatened to take "political sanyas" if these were proved correct.

BJP, which lost power in 1998 due to onion crisis, is seeking to present itself as the one, which "understands the problems of Delhiites".

It is raking up the issue of outbreak of dengue recently in Delhi and the infamous 'tandoor' murder case in which a former Delhi Youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma was sentenced to death for killing his wife.

Congress, on the other hand, is projecting its "good governance and development" as its main plank to retain power.

"We remind the people about the work we did in the last five years. People have seen and felt development undertaken by our government," says Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Arguing that the "work which we started is not finished yet", she is asking voters to elect her party to power again if they "wanted Delhi's development to be taken forward to make it a city of international standards."

The Congress and BJP are vying with each other to take credit for developmental projects in Delhi.

Dikshit lists the Delhi Metro Rail, construction of flyovers to ease traffic snarls and shifting of public transport from polluting diesel to environment-friendly CNG as some of the achievements of her government.

Countering Diskhit's assertions, Khurana asks her to "name only two works which you have initiated and completed."

He maintains that the Metro Rail plan had been conceived during the tenure of BJP government between 1993 and 1998 as had been the project of flyovers and CNG.

The two parties, however, have similarity of views on the issue of full Statehood for Delhi to end multiplicity of authority, although BJP accuses Congress of delaying it.

The issue of unauthorised colonies is yet another subject on which both parties agree that these should be regularised.

Both Congress and BJP blame rise in population due to continued influx of people from other parts of the country for sprouting of unauthorised colonies.

First Published: Nov 26, 2003 09:46 IST