Delhi Underground: Foot in mouth?

Delhi Underground: Foot in mouth?

Toofan aya hai. Ab sab ud gaye. Kya kiya jaye.

When poll results were declared in Shahbad Dairy for the eight constituencies of Northwest Delhi, a Congress candidate walked out of the booth looking amused after her AAP rival won from the constituency. Asked why she looked amused, she said, “Toofan aya hai. Ab sab ud gaye. Kya kiya jaye.” Asked if she lost because she contested on a Congress ticket this time, she said, “Haan ab aisi party se jodenge toh aisa hi hoga.” Hearing this, her husband quickly interjected and told his wife, “Nahin nahin, aisa mat bolo.” He then faced reporters and, with a confident look, said, “Sorry no comments.”

A middle-aged man was seen posing for the media with both BJP and AAP supporters at the Pusa Road counting centre. The man, who had two caps in his pocket — white for the AAP and saffron for the BJP — came to the counting centre for the sole purpose of getting coverage. However, his game was up after a camera person clicking photos of AAP supporters caught him switching his cap from saffron to white and shooed him away.

Bidhuri ‘missing’
Among the few BJP leaders who made their appearance at the AAP government’s swearing-in was South Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri. Sitting a few seats away from the other BJP representatives, Bidhuri went unnoticed for a while. Soon enough, reporters in the media enclosure next to the VIP area noticed him and called out to him for a sound bite. After ignoring their cries for a few minutes, Bidhuri was forced to get up and wave to acknowledge them. However, he made it a point to change his seat as soon as the swearing-in began. After the programme, he went “missing” as reporters tried very hard to locate him for comments.


Switching sides
While Congress campaign chief Ajay Maken maintained that the party’s volunteers didn’t leave their posts on polling day, many MLAs said this was simply not the case. One candidate claimed a BJP worker had called to inform that Congress workers had left their posts to start campaigning for the AAP.


An unbelievable loss
An officer, who was getting reports after each round of counting from the counting centre, could not believe his ears when he heard that Kiran Bedi had lost from Krishna Nagar. The officer refused to believe the result and asked one of his officers to personally call a fellow officer posted at Krishna Nagar and confirm the news.

No water
The stage for the media and special invitees at Arvind Kejriwal’s swearing-in ceremony was much larger than the one in 2013, making up for complaints from the TV crew the last time. This time, however, there was a new problem — lack of drinking water. With temperatures rising, everyone from celebrities to journalists went to AAP members to ask for water. Inundated with complaints, the AAP members themselves said, “But we haven’t organised this, the L-G’s office has. Please give us some water if you find it.”

Different styles
AAP candidate Rajesh Rishi’s victory over BJP strongman Jagdish Mukhi from Janakpuri was one of the biggest upsets in the Assembly elections. However, inside the counting centre, Rishi refused to accept the result till the last vote was counted. During the 16 rounds of counting, Rishi did not even sit once. He was busy cross-checking the votes to see if they were being tallied correctly. “We have worked really hard. I want to do my job till results are officially announced,” Rishi said. However, on the floor below Rishi’s, AAP candidate Rakhi Birla looked relaxed but tired. “I’m very tired after the exhaustive campaigning. I am happy about the victory. But I just want to go home and sleep,” Birla said.

Sea of interviews
TV journalists closely followed the counting of votes in Krishna Nagar, with news flashes after each round showing BJP’s CM candidate Kiran Bedi leading or trailing. However, even before round 13 of the results was announced, AAP candidate from Krishna Nagar, S K Bagga, came out of the counting centre and flashed the victory sign. “Who is this? Why is he showing the victory sign? Is he from the AAP? Where has he won from?” TV journalists, impatient for answers, said. Once they learnt that he had defeated Bedi, they pounced on him. Bagga was then tossed from one news channel to another.

TV out of recharge
On the day of counting of votes, the Election Commission (EC) had put up three screens in the media room at the South district counting centre — two displaying results and trends and the third showing the news. While reporters sat glued to the screens, the TV showing news lost connection as the DTH service had not been recharged. In a fix, EC officials started making hurried calls to get the service back. However, it took 30 minutes for it to be restored.

Blame game
While Delhi BJP leaders are not coming out in the open on the party’s poll debacle, their ‘drawing room’ talks blame the national leadership for underestimating the state unit. They claimed that those who could not establish themselves as leaders misdirected the top brass about Delhi. Nonetheless, the Delhi unit will take the blame for the defeat, a Delhi leader said.

Tracking results
On election result day, while journalists and other officials were not allowed to carry mobile phones inside the counting areas, the case was not the same for police personnel. Policemen could be seen outside counting rooms with notebooks and mobile phones, writing down the results of their favourite candidates and then sending messages of the results to policemen stationed away from the counting room.