For three hours,somehow they avoided each other. They roamed the same streets,in the same area.
At 1 pm,the inevitable happened. Three hours after both started their roadshows,their open jeeps stood facing each other at the Sarojini Nagar intersection. They refused to look at each other,waving in opposite directions.
Their cavalcade though could not but notice each other. Both sets of supporters went into overdrive. The hand and the broom competed with each other. Slogans,missing during the Kejriwal roadshow,made a comeback. And in that moment,if they hadnt known already,Arvind Kejriwal and Sheila Dikshit found out that they were party to Delhis most enthralling political battle.
Sundays plan of action was clear. For the first time in the entire election campaign,Kejriwal stayed exclusively in his New Delhi constituency.
And in an Assembly constituency defined by its bureaucrats and government officials,he began his roadshow at Pillanji village.
Arvindji has primarily gone to the lower income areas. His manifesto meetings were in places such as the jhuggi jhopdi cluster behind Le Meridien Hotel. Places such as Pillanjigaon and the New Delhi jhuggi jhopdis get no attention because the candidates only serve the influential government employees. But they are a large voter base and are important for the AAP, a party volunteer said.
Every move on Sunday seemed to be designed to reach as many people as possible. At one point,outside Sarojini Nagar market,Kejriwal took the microphone to speak. He stopped though,and told the driver to move a few paces ahead. The reason,he said,was that he wouldnt be able to see the people looking out of the shops otherwise.
Throughout the day,whenever he spoke,Kejriwal referred to the AAP as Delhis last chance.
We must thank god that the circumstances have been such that the AAP was formed. I have not come to you to ask for votes. I have come to ask you not to waste this god-given chance. For years,you have seen the Congress and the BJP looting us,cheating us. To vote for the jhadoo (broom) is now your responsibility, he told the crowd.
Those following him,in AAP topis and with brooms in hand,cheered every word. Those who didnt,were pulled in as well. When those watching from the Sarojini Nagar market didnt answer to Kejriwals Jai Hind call,he addressed them directly.
It seems those at the back are too shy to say Jai Hind. Close your fist,put your hands in the air,and sing the praises of your country. Jai Hind, he said. Sheepishly,with everyone watching,the reluctant ones responded.
If the front of the entourage saw Kejriwal waving to the crowds,being garlanded,and people jumping onto his open jeep to greet him,quieter work went on at the back.
Volunteers went up to each person watching the procession and asked them to vote for AAP.
Pratyush Gandhi,an AAP volunteer,said,If their response is enthusiastic,we give them a topi and a sticker and ask them to join those walking along the jeep. This is New Delhi. Arvindji has to win.