A lazy morning after sleeping eight hours straight; curling up with a book; watching a movie; playing cricket under the soft glow of the retreating winter sun; or catching up with loved ones — for the city’s MLA aspirants, Sunday was about rediscovering the small joys of life following the high-octane Delhi Assembly poll campaign.
With their fate sealed in EVMs, candidates from the AAP, BJP and Congress spent much of the day relaxing, while also touching base with the rank and file of their respective parties, keeping them motivated and issuing quick instructions to guard the strong rooms. Results will be declared on Tuesday.
For AAP’s Atishi, Raghav Chadha and Dilip Pandey, the last 12 months have been one of the most intense periods of their lives. They led two campaigns each — the first time eyeing berths in the Lok Sabha, albeit unsuccessfully, and then emerging as MLA candidates over the recent months.
In conversations with The Indian Express on Sunday, the AAP leaders pointed out how campaigning for the Assembly polls was “much more manageable” but “intense”. “The biggest difference was in the scale. During the Lok Sabha polls, I had to cover 10 Assembly seats alone. In that respect, campaigning for Assembly polls was much more manageable,” said Atishi.
She pointed out how an Assembly constituency like Kalkaji, the one she’s contesting from, can be covered within two days through roadshows and padyatras: “Moreover, you can meet the same sets of people more than once.”
Pandey, who fought from the Timarpur constituency, seconded Atishi, noting that in terms of scale, the assembly election campaign is 1/10th of the one mounted during the general elections.
“It is centred more around local issues. During Lok Sabha polls, you are not expected to go door-to-door, and that is not even possible. But in this case, every voter expects that you will come knocking or at least cover their lane. This is the toughness of the Assembly polls, but it also makes the campaign more effective and personalised. One needs to identify with each and every voter,” he said.
While Atishi spent her morning reading a spy thriller, Pandey took out time to play a round of cricket with AAP’s Karawal Nagar candidate Durgesh Pathak. Chadha also played cricket in a neighbourhood park, before setting out to meet Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his official residence.
“We hadn’t met for around a fortnight. So I went over to meet him. In terms of campaigning, during the Lok Sabha, the MLAs of the constituency I was contesting from assisted me. Here, I was running the show myself, not relying on anyone in particular,” said Chadha.
Kejriwal, who contested from the New Delhi seat, met volunteers, workers and a few students from IIT-Delhi, before attending a wedding in the evening. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was busy meeting AAP volunteers in Patparganj, the seat he’s contesting from. Later, he shared pictures of him playing with his niece’s daughter on Twitter.
While the gulf between the BJP and AAP may have widened during electioneering, BJP leaders too spent their Sunday away from the heat and dust of politics.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari spent the morning with his mother, who has been in Delhi the past week. “My mother has been staying with me for a week now, but I was not able to sit with her and catch up owing to my hectic schedule. Today, I did what I love most — engage in idle banter with her, reminiscing about old days,” he said.
During the second half of the day, mediapersons and party workers came over to his residence and the afternoon was spent huddled with them, followed by a session of cricket. “Cricket and music are the best ways for me to re-energise myself,” said the North East Delhi MP.
West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh, who had first levelled the “terrorist” jibe at Kejriwal during campaigning, said he started his day by visiting Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib before attending a prayer meeting for senior RSS Pracharak Raj Narayan Pandey in Paschim Vihar.
BJP’s Sunil Yadav, who contested from the New Delhi seat against Kejriwal, spent the morning in the gym, and then watched Hrithik Roshan-starrer Super 30 with his children. “I saw a movie after a long time. I also played some chess. In the evening, I am planning to meet a few friends,” he said.
BJP candidate from Hari Nagar, Tajinder Singh Bagga, often in the limelight for his controversial social media comments, slept till late and then went on to meet party workers to assess the ground situation. “I was running a fever over the past few days, but I took medicines and continued campaigning,” he said.
After a series of rallies and padyatras across the Krishna Nagar constituency, BJP candidate Dr Anil Goyal spent the Sunday at another election — to choose the next president and vice-president of the Delhi Medical Association (DMA).
A urologist, who also runs an 80-bed nursing home in Krishna Nagar, Goyal was the president of DMA in 2014-15. “I went to vote in the afternoon, then to my clinic to tend to patients. In the morning and late afternoon, I was at the party office. At night, I have to attend the engagement of a senior doctor’s daughter ,” he said.
A few kilometres away at Madhu Vihar’s Singla Sweets shop, AAP’s Vishwas Nagar candidate Deepak Singla dropped by for a few minutes.
“I haven’t returned to my sweet shop in a long while and can’t till results come out. There’s a lot of work. On Monday too, I’ll be with agents. I just had time to visit the temple for a bit. I dropped by at the shop for a few minutes to see if all is okay,” said the 33-year-old first-timer.
Over at the Congress camp, Kalkaji candidate and DPCC chief Subhash Chopra’s daughter Shivani Chopra spent much of the day catching up with her family. Over the last fortnight, Chopra was on the roads, addressing public gatherings and rallies and going door-to-door to meet people.
Accustomed to her daily campaign routine, she said she woke up at 5 am on Sunday only to realise that elections are over. “I went back to sleep after I realised there is no campaign schedule today. The last few days have been extremely energetic, yet hectic. For today, I have no other plans but to spend time with my family and complete some pending personal work… On Monday, I will again get back to election mode and analyse the polling and what the results will be,” said Chopra, who was pitted against AAP’s Atishi and BJP’s Dharambir Singh.
Another Congress candidate, Radhika Khera, who contested from Janakpuri, continued meeting locals and party workers through the day. “During campaigning, it was not possible to meet everyone, so I went to meet those who I could not during polls. I will still maintain contact with them. In the afternoon, we had a meeting to analyse the polling. There are other meetings planned in the evening too,” said Khera.
For Congress leader Abhishek Dutt, a two-time councillor and Kasturba Nagar candidate, the day after polls was spent with family and friends. Dutt, who has been on the ground addressing local issues and offering solutions to residents, said the results will prove the exit polls wrong. “I took a day off on Sunday and sat with my family, read books and slept for a while,” he said.
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