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Seemapuri (SC)

Candidates contesting from Seemapuri constituency were jolted out of their wits during Janta Darbar, a face to face dialogue with the local population. And, for a change, it was the common man who had the last laugh!

india Updated: Nov 28, 2003 13:59 IST

Candidates contesting from Seemapuri constituency were jolted out of their wits during Janta Darbar, a face to face dialogue with the local population. And, for a change, it was the common man who had the last laugh!

Jointly organised by six NGOs, Campaign for Electoral Transparency, Parivartan, National Campaign for People's Right to Information, Centre for Equity Studies, Chetna Welfare Samiti and Sahbhagi Manch, the programme was an instant hit with the locals.

Even as the candidates of Congress and BJP backed out at the last minute, the show went on with candidates of Samajwadi Party, National Loktantrik Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. The three candidates who turned up, were subjected to a rapid fire round by two panels of locals and finally to the queries of the general public.

According to one of the panelists, 50-year-old teacher, Abul Kalam, "the underlying principle behind questioning candidates was to test their knowledge about the constituency and let the people decide for themselves." Bimla, another panelist and a social worker, saw the entire episode as a way to set the power equation right. "It felt nice to see candidates trying to appease the common man, usually it's the other way round. For once it looked as if the final power rested with the people and not the politicians," she added jubilantly.

The darbar took a dramatic turn with Narayan Singh of Samajwadi Party announcing if elected, he would do whatever it takes to prevent jhuggis of Seemapuri from being bulldozed, even if it meant to lie in front of bulldozers. Nand Kishore contesting for National Loktantrik Party on the other hand, 'promised,' if elected, he would organise darbars every third day of his tenure.

Amusingly enough, Jai Bhagwan of the Bahujan Samaj Party almost lost his cool, irritably retorting, "main koi Hanuman nahin hun ki apna seena dikha saku, magar main garib ke hith mein hi hu." (I am not Hanuman to cut open my chest to show you my heart, but I am with the poor."

At the end of the programme, an undertaking was signed by candidates in form of an affidavit that said the candidates would not sanction any expenditure from their MLA Local Development Fund without the approval of the people.

According to the organisers, the whole point behind Janta Darbar was not only to provide a platform for the masses and the candidates to communicate, but also to highlight the basic concerns of the locals. In this direction, VCD of the recorded programme would be screened in every street corner within the constituency.

First Published: Nov 28, 2003 13:59 IST