Bigwigs fight for poll pie in New Delhi

Dikshit faces challenge from Kejriwal and BJP

Bigwigs fight for poll pie in New Delhi

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been challenged in her own den in the New Delhi constituency by BJP’s Vijender Gupta, a former Delhi BJP chief, and Aam Aadmi Party’s star Arvind Kejriwal.

Dikshit, 75, a three-time legislator, is no pushover. In fact, she is credited with defeating and ruining the political careers of many challengers over the last 15 years.

The aspiration to be a “giant killer” powers Vijender Gupta (50) to make that extra effort to win over voters. “I have no fear and nothing to lose. I am going to finish her winning streak,” said the BJP candidate, who unsuccessfully contested the last parliamentary election from Chandni Chowk in old Delhi.

Kejriwal, too, fancies his chance against the chief minister. “I am fighting the polls on people’s behalf. If they make up their mind they can rock any seat of power and change legislators and chief ministers.”

Dikshit and Kejriwal are relying more on their party cadres for maintaining the election tempo in the constituency while they continue to go on padyatras and campaign meetings across the city.

“I am confident that the Congress will return to power for the fourth successive time,” Dikshit said, sparing time from her hectic schedule.

Congress leaders in the constituency said Dikshit’s pre-occupation with campaigning in other areas will not have any bearing on her victory.

“The party’s well-oiled machinery will ensure her fourth straight win from the seat,” said a party leader.

Gupta is meanwhile meeting people in colonies, markets and interacting with parents outside schools. “I am trying to differentiate myself from other candidates by telling voters that I will be available for their work all the time, unlike Diskhit who remained busy with the government works during her tenure as a legislator,” he said.

As part of his door-to-door campaign, Gupta also personally met Vice President M Hamid Ansari and sought his support in the December 4 elections.

An AAP supporter said Kejriwal keeps visiting the constituency and leaves for his rallies in other parts of the city from the party’s office near Rajiv Chowk, the central commercial hub. “He passes through parts of the constituency almost daily. The door-to-door contact responsibility is on other campaigners, like me,” said a young AAP worker.

 Gupta prefers to play the “Mehngai Dayain” song, from Bollywood movie “Peepli Live”, as he takes out padyatras. He also highlights the high electricity tariff and water shortage during interaction with people. “Padyatra and corner meetings are the best way of striking a chord with people,” he said.

Star constituency

Dikshit won from the seat in 2008 with a margin of over 13,000 votes out of a total of over one lakh. The constituency is home to MPs’ bungalows, government servants’ residential colonies, offices and several markets apart from the commercial hub at Rajiv Chowk.

The civic services in the area are maintained by the premier local body, New Delhi Municipal Council. Apart from Parliament, the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Supreme Court, the constituency also has the prime minister’s residence and several five star hotels and embassies.

Gupta claims the constituency has been ignored despite being home to several VIPs. The pavements are broken, people are complaining of water shortage and there are hardly any job opportunities for the children of government employees who dominate the constituency, said Gupta, shedding light over the problems that people want to be addressed.

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