Handpicked by the Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar to lead the party in Delhi, Kanwar Pratap Singh has firmly set his eyes on the Assembly elections as the NCP gears up to contest all the 70 seats.
According to Mr. Singh , candidates with incorruptible track record would be given tickets. “Mr. Pawar has categorically told me not to give tickets to candidates with criminal antecedents. Tickets will be given to intelligentsia like doctors, lawyers and educationists who have a clean track record. Kashmiri Pandits and Scheduled Castes would also be preferred. After Diwali we will announce the list, said Mr. Singh.”
The NCP will soon come up with a strategy to woo the voters. Firstly, heavyweights like Mr. Pawar, Praful Patel and Tariq Anwar will canvas during the build-up to the polls. Secondly, the all-important issue of water would be the party’s main development plank.
“The grim fact is that all water tables in Delhi have dried up. Therefore, reviving erstwhile water bodies in the rural areas of the city is on top of my agenda.”
Reducing the gap between Bharat and India is another priority.
“In Delhi, we have slum dwellers who get only 70 litres of water per person per day but in the NDMC areas, where the creamy layer resides, every person on average gets 800 litres. Why this huge disparity?”
The party is brimming with optimism because it won six seats in the municipal polls.
“Corruption is a major issue affecting the common man. The Commonwealth Games has been a big scandal. The Delhi Government’s track record on corruption has been poor.”
The Jat leader from Gur Mandi (Model Town) is confident that the party’s prospects are better this time round. In the Assembly elections, NCP will win three-four seats and get a sizeable chunk of votes in 20 seats, he said.
The party is banking on its supporters who lived in rural areas and slums of the city.
Ruling out any pre-poll alliance with the Congress, Mr. Singh said there is strong anti-incumbency factor against the ruling party.
He believes the Aam Aadmi Party will get around 20 per cent votes, but would manage to win only two to four seats. “Last time the BSP got a share of 14 per cent votes and managed to wrest two seats. The AAP is a blessing in disguise for the Congress. It will play spoilsport and damage the principal opposition party, the BJP.”
The NCP contested only 16 seats in the 2008 Assembly elections but failed to open its account.
According to party secretary S. R. Kohli, the NCP would not be affected by the parting of ways by Gujjar leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri.
“Mr. Bidhuri’s exit from the NCP would have no bearing in this election. He was an elected MLA from our party but was not the top leader,” said Mr. Kohli.
On prospects of a tie-up with the parent party, Mr. Kohli said though the NCP has partnered with the Congress in Maharashtra, it was unlikely that it would go with the ruling party in Delhi. “Ideologically, the NCP is closer to the Congress than the BJP which represents the saffron brigade. But we have decided to fight independently.”