Congress banked on infrastructure boom

Dikshit exhibited confidence, campaigned hard against anti-incumbency sentiment

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was the face of ruling Congress in the elections and she shouldered a bulk of responsibility of campaigning for Assembly elections.

In last few days ahead of the December 4 voting, the 75-year-old leader addressed over five dozen political meetings and rallies.

During the campaign, the three-time chief minister sought to highlight the development carried out in the capital under her rule in past 15 years.

From the very beginning of electoral process, the Congress central leadership projected her as the face of party during elections and gave her the lead role in spreading awareness about the party’s development agenda. 

Despite costly onions and public outrage over December 2012 gang rape, Dikshit got the backing of central leaders. Political rallies by party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi gave Dikshit the ammunition to attack the rival parties.

On November 11, Congress released its first list of 56 candidates. On November 14, it replaced its Hari Nagar candidate S K Setia with former BJP leader H S Balli and gave tickets to rest of the 14 nominees. Almost all sitting legislators from Dikshit’s team got renominated. 

The fear of dissidence became a worry for the party for a short period but the timing of the release of the Congress party’s second list – two days before the last day for filing nominations — was such that it left little time for the rebels or the rejected ticket aspirants to voice their displeasure.

Dikshit’s campaign style was typical of a confident leader who posed counter questions on thorny issues. Whenever the opposition BJP raised the issue of alleged corruption in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, Dikshit countered them by asking for evidence.

“Some questions were raised by the CAG and a committee and the replies were given. No minister or officer faced a case. You tell me any case in which any case was filed,” she said on December 2 in the dying moments of electioneering. 

Refuting all opinion polls projections that Congress would perform badly in Assembly elections, Dikshit said, “I do not believe in opinion polls. I can also certify myself to be numero uno.” 

In a last-ditch effort to blunt the BJP charge led by its prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Dikshit compared power tariffs and other development indicators of Delhi with those of Gujarat.

She attempted to highlight that the development carried out by her team in the city over last 15 years was better than that in other states.

“Our power tariff is lower than that of others,” she said,while sharing data with reporters indicating that Delhi fares better than Gujarat in terms of poverty index, expenditure on social sectors, households with drainage, pensions, green cover and buses per lakh population. 

During the month-long campaign, Dikshit was joined by star campaigners such as actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar and chief ministers of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand while she tirelessly slammed the rival parties for misleading the voters by spreading falsehoods.

“Either the opposition parties are naive or they are deliberately misleading people,” she said. The Congress party relied heavily on her image as a three-time chief minister to woo Delhi voters.

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