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An interesting clash brewing in Rohtas Nagar

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Manisha Jha

Former DPCC president Ram Babu Sharma takes on BJP’s Alok Kumar and Lokesh Dikshit of the BSP

Mr. Sharma thinks delimitation would act in his favour as he was councillor of Nand Nagri earlier

Mr. Kumar believes that the party’s winning streak in the municipal polls will see him through

NEW DELHI: Comprising a sizeable majority of Scheduled Caste voters, Rohtas Nagar in the North-East Delhi parliamentary constituency is gearing up for an interesting clash for the Delhi Assembly seat between sitting MLA and former Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Ram Babu Sharma and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Alok Kumar.

The two had earlier clashed in the constituency during the 2003 Delhi Assembly elections when Mr. Sharma had emerged the winner. However, despite the loss Mr. Kumar is high on confidence this time round and believes that the party’s winning streak in the municipal polls last year -- where it made a clean sweep and bagged all four wards from the Congress falling in Rohtas Nagar – will see him through.

At the same time, the Bahujan Samaj Party factor could loom large in this constituency with Scheduled Caste votes being added to Rohtas Nagar by the inclusion of parts of Nand Nagari and Babarpur after the recent delimitation exercise. Moreover, the BSP candidate Lokesh Dikshit is no pushover and is widely considered a strong candidate. However, Mr. Sharma believes that the delimitation would act in his favour as he had earlier served in the newly added Nand Nagri area as a councillor. He is also relying on the mantra of his development works in the constituency coupled with his “accessible and responsive” working style to see him through.

“Development of infrastructure projects, the impact of the Ladli girl child scheme and provision of pensions to majority of widows, senior citizens and handicapped has been our biggest achievement which we would be showcasing,” he says.

Mr. Kumar on the other hand is raising a number of national and constituency-specific issues to criticise his main rival. “At the national level, we are raising issues of terrorism, price rise and economic mismanagement. Constituency specific issues include lack of clean drinking water, erratic electricity supply, inflated power bills, poor transportation and mismanagement in the public distribution system,” he says.

“Moreover, Rohtas Nagar consists of mostly lower and middle class people who have been hit hard by the price rise which will backfire on the Congress. The inaccessibility factor of the sitting MLA would also add to his unpopularity and this coupled with a very strong contender from the BSP who could easily dent the Congress votes by about 10 to 15 per cent and this makes us confident that the BJP would win this seat,” he adds.

Mr. Kumar also insists that Mr. Sharma has spent his entire tenure fighting with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. “He did not visit the people after getting elected,” he charged.

Interestingly, Mr. Sharma too has the same allegation to make against his BJP counterpart and accuses him of hardly devoting any time to politics. He dismisses Mr. Kumar as a “one time wonder” who won the 1993 Assembly election but lost twice thereafter in 1998 and 2003. He also dismisses the BSP contender Lokesh Dikshit as being an “unknown leader from Uttar Pradesh”.

On the campaign strategy adopted by the BJP to woo voters in Rohtas Nagar, Mr. Kumar claimed that apart from undertaking door-to-door visits to the voters, BJP workers had also presented a calendar of Goddess Laxmi to all Hindu households in the area on Diwali and gifted a separate calendar to Muslim households on Id. The Congress camp too has pulled out all stops and is reaching out to voters through a more personalised campaign of door-to-door visits rather than relying on telephone calls and SMSs.

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