Grudge contest in East Delhi

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi
May 07, 2004 03:11 PM IST

It is a grudge contest in the capital's second largest LS seat in East Delhi as CM Shiela Dikshit makes all-out efforts to wrest the seat for son Sandeep Dikshit from her one-time opponent three-time winner Lal Bihari Tiwari.

It is a grudge contest in the capital's second largest parliamentary constituency East Delhi as Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit makes all-out efforts to wrest the seat for son Sandeep Dikshit from her one-time opponent three-time winner Lal Bihari Tiwari of BJP.

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The odds appear to favour the younger Dikshit, making his debut in the electoral battle where 26 contestants are in fray and his rival is banking heavily on the Vajpayee factor and "India Shining" campaign of BJP.

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"But, he has hardly shone himself here in the constituency during the three terms that he has been elected," remarked Ravi Kumar, a resident of DDA colony in Mayur Vihar.

One voter in this sprawling constituency, comprising 20 of the 70 assembly seats, remarked Tiwari rather sarcastically as the "missing MP" for having been rarely sighted, appears to be having a bumpy ride which is what a large number of roads in this constituency have.

As even a party worker, who wanted to be anonymous said in a lighter vein "Tiwari hai majboori kyunki Atalji hai zaroori."

But, this does not appear to carry weight with much of the electorate except with the Poorvanchalis, euphemism for migrants from Bihar, who play a crucial role in this constituency which has a spread of resettlement colonies, group housing societies and a good number of the business community.

This constituency stretching from Narela in the North on the Delhi-Haryana border to Kondli and Ghazipur in the East on the Delhi-UP border, has an electorate of about 26 lakhs with most of them being migrants.

There is substantial presence of Dalits, OBCs including Gujjars in the constituency which has thrown up different results in Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

"Unlike his predecessor B L Sharma 'Prem', where was a familiar face in East Delhi colonies, Tiwari has hardly been sighted during the three terms that he has been MP," said Ashok Singh, a resident of a Cooperative Group Housing Society in Mayur Vihar.

"This time we will vote for the hand," said Sawan Kumar who is a regular fruit vendor at the weekly Thursday fruit and vegetable market in Mayur Vihar "as the MP who is from here has rarely been sighted."

Several BJP insiders too admit that the going would be tough for Tiwari this time.

The Congress got a shot in the arm when recently Gujjar Community decided to support Sandip Dikshit at a Mahasameelan which was attended by the Chief Minister.

Once considered a stronghold of the Congress with old war horse H K L Bhagat having been elected from here in 1971 for the first time and subsequently becoming the "uncrowned king" winning the seat in 1980, 1984 and 1989. But the 1984 anti-Sikh riots proved to be his waterloo as he lost to BJP's Sharma since when there was no looking back for the saffron outfit.

However, much water has flown down the Yamuna since then and the Congress appears to be regaining ground and the seat is gradually coming into the grasp of the generation next of the Congress.

While the BJP has been winning the Lok Sabha elections, Congress scored impressive victory over its rivals in the 1998 and 2003 assembly elections. The BJP once again hopes that the tide will continue to flow in its favour in Lok Sabha polls.

The last few years also witnessed the emergence of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which polled 1.5 lakh votes in the assembly elections in December last as against 35,000 in 1998 and 37,000 in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

This time too the BSP candidate Balraj Chaudhury is likely to make some dent in the Congress votes but with the floating votes being large in number, they could well decide the fate of the candidate.

In 1996, Tiwari had defeated Shiela Dikshit by a margin of 46,000 votes and three years later beat former Lt Governor of Delhi, H L Kapur by nearly 82,000 votes riding on the Kargil factor and the Vajpayee wave.

The question again being posed is "would Tiwari be able to ride the Vajpayee wave again."

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