Glamour missing from civic body elections

Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI: With no prominent film or television star making an appearance during the ongoing campaigning, glamour is missing from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections this time round. Barring "Bihari Babu" Shatrughan Sinha and Navjot Singh Sidhu for the Bharatiya Janata Party, both the Congress and the BJP have failed to rope in stars to campaign for their candidates.

With just two days left for campaigning, it is unlikely any cine stars will campaign for any party. Even the political parties have lost hope and are now relying heavily on their sitting MPs, MLAs and other senior local leaders to ensure that their candidates come out victorious. The BJP has been stating that "dreamgril" Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Suresh Oberoi, and Smriti Irani, better known as "Tulsi" of the famous teleserial "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi", would campaign for the party. Similarly, the Congress was pinning its hope on Govinda, Reena Roy and Rajesh Khanna to garner both crowds at their election rallies and votes for their candidates.

In the last MCD elections held in 2002, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna, Chunky Pandey and Punjabi pop singer Daler Mahendi had campaigned for the BJP, while Reena Roy, Deepak Tijori and some television artists had canvassed for the Congress.

"Elections to the largest municipality in the country are taken very seriously by all the political parties, particularly the Congress and the BJP, where very serious campaigning is done by the parties and their candidates. In the absence of cine stars who are crowd-pullers, the party is now relying on sitting MPs and MLAs to garner votes for us," said a senior Congress leader.

Campaigning has become an uphill task for the Congress as no prominent functionary from the Central leadership has campaigned extensively for the party candidates. The onus on garnering votes for the party lay on Delhi Congress chief Ram Babu Sharma and Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken. Both leaders are highlighting the "smooth" clearance of the new Master Plan that, they claim, has given relief to the majority of affected traders.

However, other party MPs from Delhi including Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and Krishna Tirath have been campaigning hard in their respective Lok Sabha constituencies. MP Sandeep Dikshit is keeping a low profile, particularly after people shouted slogans against him and her mother at an election rally in trans-Yamuna area in protest against the sealing drive

On the other hand, senior BJP leaders including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, V.K. Malhotra, Vijay Goel, Sahib Singh Verma and Sahnawaz Hussain besides the BJP's State president Harsh Vardhan have been holding rallies across the city. Interestingly, senior BJP leaders from Bihar have also been called to campaign in areas where a large number of natives from Poorvanchal reside.

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