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SOUTH DELHI

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi
May 19, 2004 11:14 AM IST

BJP's sitting MP VK Malhotra & RK Anand of Cong are embroiled in a no-holds barred verbal duel.

Distant cousins, the two are political rivals in South Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. But setting aside kinship, BJP's sitting MP V K Malhotra and R K Anand of Congress are embroiled in a no-holds barred verbal duel, singling out each other's "outsider" status.

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BJP has won from the constituency in the last three elections. This time, Malhotra is locking horns with Anand, a noted lawyer but political newcomer.

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The two cousins have entered a verbal duel, terming each other the "outsider" and claiming to be more aware of the problems of the people of the constituency than the other.

While Malhotra has attacked Anand, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, as being a non-Delhiite on account of being a bonafide resident of the eastern state, Anand has retorted by reminding that he lived in South Delhi unlike his BJP rival who has two houses, both outside the constituency that goes to polls on May 10.

The former BJP spokesman said "Anand is not serious about elections. And Congress also knows that it can't win from South Delhi. That is why, a Rajya Sabha MP with two years of his term remaining has been fielded from the constituency."

Anand has in reply called Malhotra the "outsider" because of his living in west Delhi and "disappearing" after the last elections. "I have the support of the RWAs, who are angry with Malhotra for not showing his face to them even once in the last five years," he claimed.

While Malhotra is distributing pamphlets listing the NDA Government's achievements as well as the work that he has done in the constituency, Anand said his `distant relative' has become distant to the constituency of 10,09,188 electorate.

The two candidates are holding meetings with RWAs and focussing on the local problems of water, electricity and sanitation.

"People are hurt. The Sheila Dikshit government has done little to solve the problem of water scarcity which hits this area of the city worst. There is also a severe power shortage in the area," Malhotra said, adding the RWAs were in fact enraged with Congress for its poor governance of Delhi.

He also said he has done his bit for the people of the constituency, which includes building a biodiversity park, a community centre, a sports centre and an old age home as well as installing close to thousand streetlights.

Anand, on the other hand, has come up with a plan to integrate the villages of the otherwise posh South Delhi.

"The villages in the area need to be integrated with the surrounding urban areas and I have a plan to equip them with the basic facilities that characterise a city," he said.

The nine per cent Sikh electorate in the constituency is being seen as "crucial", and therefore the anti-Sikh riots during Congress rule and Anand's legal help to those accused in the riot cases are being raked up by BJP and the party had Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal address a public rally for Malhotra.

But Anand said the anti-Sikh riot was a "dead issue". "The Sikhs are progressive people. They don't dwell in the past. The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 are a dead issue for them."

On the speculation that South Delhi was the weakest link for Congress in Delhi, he said it was in fact the "strongest", and claimed there was a wave against Malhotra.

But Anand, who after a long association with Congress as their "favourite advocate" entered Rajya Sabha on the party's ticket, is attempting what the party has failed to do since 1984, that is to win the South Delhi seat.

While Madan Lal Khurana had won the seat for BJP in 1989 and 1991, Sushma Swaraj also emerged victorious in two consecutive elections, defeating Congress' Kapil Sibal in 1996 and Ajay Maken in 1998 by a margin of 1,14,006 and 1,16,713 votes respectively.

It was followed up by Malhotra defeating former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh in the 1999 elections, albeit by a comparatively modest margin of 29,999 votes.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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