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Karol Bagh (ST)

Former BJP minister and heavyweight Surender Pal Ratawal is hoping for a comeback in the Karol Bagh reserved constituency, where the dominant 'Reghar' community determines who becomes the MLA.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2003 13:27 IST

Erstwhile BJP minister and heavyweight Surender Pal Ratawal is hoping for a comeback in the Karol Bagh reserved constituency, where the dominant 'Reghar' community determines who becomes the MLA.

Ratawal had lost the last election to Congress candidate Moti Lal Bakolia by a narrow margin of 2,000-odd votes. "Despite the onion crisis, I lost only by a couple of thousand votes, while in nearby constituencies the BJP candidates lost by huge margins of 8,000 to 12,000 votes," says Ratawal. This time he is sure to make the cut.

Pitted against Ratawal is his relative, Congress candidate and MCD school teacher, Durgesh Mohanpuria. She is a political greenhorn but hopes her family background (both her late husband and father-in-law were corporation members) will see her through. Party workers are asking people to vote for a change.

Voters in the locality alleged Ratawal lost the last election in spite of his social welfare schemes after he got associated with some alleged criminals in the area and ignored his voters. The welfare schemes that made him popular were pension to the elderly and Rs 5,000 aid to widows. These schemes were discontinued by the Congress.

During his five-year tenure, Bakolia could not do much to solve the area's water, sewage and parking problems. Mohanpuria, however, promises to complete work on a new 16-inch diameter pipeline and other pending works.

The nomination of BSP candidate and Ratawal's arch enemy, former IPS officer Yadram Dhuria, makes the fight interesting. Dhuria and his wife were arrested over a property dispute with Ratawal. Dhuria is determined to see his enemy down.

But BJP workers in the area say Dhuria will only erode Congress votes as the 500 to 700 votes of his family members and supporters, which would have gone to Congress, will now be cast in his favour. Dhuria, incidentally, is Ratawal's next-door neighbour.