At a jansabha of BJP candidate from West Delhi Parvesh Singh Sahib Verma, those holding positions in the BJP and SAD wanted to go up on stage, prompting the organisers to announce that the Delhi Police had ordered that not everybody could be allowed on stage. With around 250 people turning up at the jansabha, a party worker was heard telling another, “Sabko bolo yahin baith jayen. sab stage pe chale jayenge to sabha kaun bharega? Waise bhi log kam hai (Tell everyone to sit here itself. If everyone goes on stage, who will fill the space here? As it is, the crowd is thin).”
After arriving in Delhi, AAP’s Amethi candidate Kumar Vishwas claimed he “was here to help his friends in their campaigning”. But sources claimed there was more to his two-day visit. “A series of TV interviews had been on hold because he was in Amethi all this while. After April 8, he will not be able to be a part of any TV shows. He is planning to wrap up all the interviews in these two-three days. After all, he is a national face and a star campaigner. It is important that he is visible on TV,” an AAP volunteer said.
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A volunteer and a key member in the campaigning and PR team of a national party was snubbed by the party candidate after he produced a file of election-related newspaper cuttings before him. The file, neatly prepared with dates of the cuttings of all election- and constituency-related news, was thrown away by the candidate as most were of English newspapers. “In my constituency, only one lakh people read English papers. They just make for one lakh voters. Rest of the 14 lakh voters read only Hindi papers. I do not even want to see what English papers are carrying. Please tell me how many Hindi papers have carried our campaign. Please do your work properly,” he said.
Mechanic turned candidate
He may only be a cycle mechanic from Bawana, but that hasn’t stopped Dharamvir from contesting the elections against the big parties from the Northwest Lok Sabha constituency. Forced to sell two houses and now staying in a slum in Shahbad Dairy, the 45-year-old maybe short on money, but not enterprise. He has already helped rehabilitate 800 slum-dwellers, whose jhuggis caught fire in 2009, something he thinks “can help him win the elections”, even though he has not been campaigning at all. “I can’t afford big jeeps or banners, so I’m going door to door. But, I have done work here and that’s why I think I will win,” he says confidently.
In a routine press conference of BJP leader V K Malhotra at the party’s Delhi headquarters, Malhotra was seen reading a report card launched by Congress MP and its candidate from Chandni Chowk Kapil Sibal on his performance in the constituency. Many thought Malhotra would speak on the issue but he did not, leaving mediapersons puzzled as to why the BJP leader was reading the report card of the Congress MP at the press conference. Though Malhotra and Vijay Goel, former Delhi BJP president, sat together at the conference, both avoided looking at each other throughout.
Ashutosh vs Ashutosh
Namesakes contesting elections from the same constituency is emerging as a problem for candidates, especially if they have “similar” symbols. After West Delhi, where people are often confused between two Jarnail Singhs, now in Chandni Chowk constituency AAP’s Ashutosh, a former editor, is up against another Ashutosh (Mudgil), an Independent. Against the AAP’s jhadu (broom), Mudgil is contesting on a torch symbol. Party workers say votes were split during the Assembly polls when opponents used the torch symbol — a free symbol in the EC list — due to its apparent similarity with the jhadu. People turn up in hordes to see the “famous TV journalist” when they hear Ashutosh is coming, but in several instances this past week, they realised much later that it was the ‘Independent’ Ashutosh they went to see and not journalist Ashutosh. “At one campaign meeting, we cheered on for the wrong Ashutosh for nearly two hours,” a resident said.
The AAP’s dearth of star campaigners is increasingly becoming a logistical problem for the party. In constituencies across the country, the only requests that come in from candidates are for Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia. However, they are often told that “Kejriwal and Sisodia have only 24 hours in a day”, and cannot travel everywhere. “Often, they tell us that if Kejriwal does not campaign, they will lose the elections. It is a very difficult situation,” a party member said.
NIA, cops lock horns
Last week, when the Special Cell and NIA locked horns over the custody of alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives, a senior NIA officer said the Special Cell was taking credit for no reason. The officer said the news about Tehseen’s arrest had already been carried by a news agency, 12 hours before the Special Cell claimed to have arrested him from West Bengal.
Slipping in toilet
Mukul Upadhyay, the BSP candidate from Ghaziabad, said he was working very hard for his constituency to the extent that “I slipped one day in the toilet and fell”. Breaking into tears, he promised to continue working hard.
The organisers of a Modi rally took their enthusiasm and love for poetry a step forward when one of them penned an impromptu poem urging people to vote for the BJP. He said, “BJP ko bhari maton se vijayi banana hai; 10 tareek ko apne gharwaalon ke saath gaadiyon mein aana hai; aur agar gharwaale zyada na ho; to padosiyon ko bhi gaadiyon mein bhar ke lana hai!”, much to the entertainment of all present.
On weak ground
In East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit is busy in hectic campaigning, but most people say the fight in the seat is between the AAP and BJP. BJP’s Maheish Girri and AAP’s Rajmohan Gandhi seem to be on a stronger pitch than Dikshit. “The AAP government in Delhi made our lives easier. Water and electricity bills were within our reach. It makes sense to vote for them,” a resident in Trilokpuri said.
Who is the candidate?
While the roadshows by Arvind Kejriwal are drawing huge crowds, AAP candidates contesting from Delhi are not that easily being recognised by people. During a recent roadshow with South Delhi candidate Col. Sehrawat, even as the crowd greeted Kejriwal with garlands, hugs and slogans, some were heard asking where the local candidate was. Col. Sehrawat was standing right next to Kejriwal in the jeep.
Buses for poll officials
The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has made special arrangements for providing bus service to those deployed on election duty on April 10. “These buses will leave at 3 am and 4 am on 35 routes. All those deployed on election duty can avail the facility as per their convenience,” a DTC official said.
Kebabs for lunch
At a recent press conference where the Delhi’s Shahi Imam announced his support to the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Imam had made arrangements for lunch after the conference. As soon as the conference ended, the smell of freshly grilled kebabs and chicken filled the air. So much so that instead of following the Imam to get an exclusive quote or sound bite, all journalists headed straight for the tandoor.