BJP set to party; Cong cheerless

BJP set to party; Cong cheerless

BJP set to party; Cong cheerless

The BJP office in New Delhi was on Thursday decked up and party workers were ready with fire crackers and sweets. In contrast, relative quiet prevailed at the Congress headquarters.

Preparations for a grand celebration at 11 Ashoka Road, BJP headquarters, were kick-started on the eve of counting. Halwais (sweet makers) were seen sweating it out to prepare tonnes of laddus, while technicians installed a large screen to telecast live results, which party leaders hope would be in line with the exit polls that predicted a comfortable majority to form government.

Sporting saffron-coloured “Modi for PM” caps and unmindful of the sultry weather, a group of halwais raced against time at the canteen, making laddus out of two-and-a-half tonnes of raw material. All this, in anticipation of the BJP-led NDA coming to power on Friday.

They also enjoyed their momentary celebrity status as journalists, cadres and passers-by clicked their pictures to post them online.

Followers of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, are also going to install a ‘NaMo tea stall’ that will offer free tea. The party has also bought crackers worth a few lakhs for a big celebration, post counting.

To facilitate live interviews of party leaders, air-conditioned make-shift pandals and cubicles have been erected at the vacant space on 9, Ashoka Road, adjoining bungalow to the party headquarters.

The Congress headquarters at 24, Akbar Road, which wore a forlorn look till Wednesday, was buzzing with activity. The party also set up tents to house mediapersons on the lawn at the headquarters. A dozen air-conditioned tents – each having two cubicles for use of television channels – have come up at the party office.

However, only a handful of leaders were present at the headquarters. When quizzed about TV reports stating that the pictures of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were missing from banners placed near the tents erected for mediapersons at the AICC, Congress leaders dubbed it as a “needless controversy”.

“The tented kiosks for TV channels are a miniature of the AICC briefing hall. We never had pictures of leaders in the AICC briefing hall so they do not feature on the banners at the kiosks,” AICC Communication Department chairman Ajay Maken said.

Maken also chaired a meeting of party spokespersons and television panellists, in which they were instructed to laud the performance of the UPA in its 10-year rule. Specific instructions have been given to praise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

At the BJP headquarters, a large screen has also been installed next to the media room to bring round-the-clock live coverage of the counting. However, amid the gaiety lurks a quiet fear.

Adequate security arrangements are also being made by the Delhi Police.The road will be sealed for outsiders on Friday. The party has also informed the police that it wants to line up members from the domestic airport to the party office if the NDA wins with huge margin, to give a grand welcome to Modi. The leader is expected to fly down to Delhi on Saturday to attend a parliamentary board meeting at noon. He will, however, leave for Varanasi right after.