On eve of counting, Chief Minister refuses to speak to media

With most opinion and exit polls predicting a loss for the Congress in Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit avoided the media glare by staying indoors on Saturday, a day before the counting of votes.

However, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) president J.P. Agarwal, determined to sound optimistic, maintained that the party was confident of getting a majority and forming the government for the fourth time.

Ms. Diskhit, who has the reputation of being accessible and media-friendly, spent the day at her official residence, refusing to speak to the media.

“She had instructed me in the morning that she would not speak to the media. A crew from a news channel had come for an interview with her in the morning, but she refused,” said a member of staff at the Chief Minister’s residence, which saw little activity during the day.

The DPCC office on Deen Dayal Upadyaya Marg also wore a deserted look with just a couple of staff members present on the premises. DPCC media co-ordinator Harsh Kapoor, however, said that this was always the case on the eve of counting.

“There is little activity a day before the counting of votes. It is only after the results are announced that successful candidates reach the DPCC office, in the form of processions, and celebrations begin. We never make any prior arrangements. It is only after the candidates and workers start gathering at the office that we place orders for sweets and snacks. It will be no different this year,” said Mr. Kapoor.

Dismissing the results of exit polls, Mr. Agarwal maintained that he was confident of a fourth consecutive win for his party. “We have done development work in Delhi. We are confident of getting a majority and forming the government. The exit polls have never got it right in Delhi. These polls will be proved wrong this time as well.”

Though not confident of a resounding victory, local Congress leaders, in private conversations, said they are pinning their hopes on the Aam Aadmi Party eating into the anti-incumbency vote. “There is bound to be some discontent among people after 15 years. But we hope that the anti-incumbency votes will be divided among the BJP and the AAP, and we may not fare as badly as being predicted. It could have been worse had there being a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress,” said a Congress leader. “It is difficult to predict the results for anyone. But if the Congress wins, it would be the most befitting gift to Soniaji on her birthday, which happens to fall just a day after the counting of votes,” said a DPCC office staffer.

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