“Our fight will be against the Bharatiya Janata Party, but they do not have a face to lead them”

While acknowledging that her government will battle “anti-incumbency” in the upcoming Assembly elections, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said she is “not any less confident” about winning the polls this time than she was in 2008.

Talking to The Hindu, Ms. Dikshit, looking for a record fourth consecutive term, said “our fight will be against the Bharatiya Janata Party, but they do not even have a face to lead them” and it would work to her government’s advantage. She was making an oblique reference to the on-going tussle in the Opposition party.

Moreover, she said, the BJP has played its trump card too soon. “Narendra Modi addressed a convention here at Delhi University…he has already started his national campaign. From what I gather, his campaign is showing signs of burning out already.”

Ms. Dikshit said the Congress would have to be careful with its selection of candidates. “The thumb rule to counter anti-incumbency is to change candidates, but only those who can be replaced with better ones. We lost some seats after changing the candidates last time.”

The party had lost in constituencies including Trilokpuri, where it replaced sitting MLA Brahmpal, and Bhalaswa-Jahangirpuri, where Jile Singh Chauhan was replaced, as the contours of the constituency changed slightly and it got converted to Burari after delimitation.

Ms. Dikshit said the Congress would not start its campaign too early. “Election are ideally fought in the last 15-20 days and we would bear that in mind.”

As for the Aam Aadmi Party, Ms. Dikshit scoffed at the suggestion of it winning a sizeable number of seats as suggested by a recent opinion poll. “I don’t think it will win anything. It [AAP] has completely discredited itself. The fact that first Anna Hazare and then Kiran Bedi have refused to associate themselves with Arvind Kejriwal’s party has shown to the people that it is no good. Besides, nobody wants to waste their vote.”

Ms. Dikshit’s assertions come at a time when BJP Delhi in-charge Nitin Gadkari and State unit chief Vijay Goel have declared that their fight is still with the ruling Congress and they perceive no threat from Mr. Kejriwal’s party.

Ms. Dikshit also questioned how AAP could speak of ‘clean elections’ when the party representatives were going around with a gullak (piggy bank), collecting funds from the masses without any accountability as to its use.

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