Development remains key word in Delhi (Poll Curtainraiser - Delhi)

May 6th, 2009 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Mayank Aggarwal
New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) Come Thursday and the development plank that helped the Congress score a third consecutive win in Delhi’s assembly elections will again be put to test in the battle for seven Lok Sabha seats from the national capital.

The normally bi-polar battle here between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now has a third contender: the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

A total of 160 candidates are in the fray this time as compared to 129 in the 2004 elections. Thursday’s exercise will be spread over 11,348 polling booths with 11.09 million people eligible to vote.

Of the total voters, nearly four million are in the age group of 18-29. The huge presence of young voters has forced both the BJP and Congress to focus their campaign on them.

Even though both the Congress and BJP have raised a plethora of issues, the buzz word in Delhi still remains development.

In the 2004 general elections, the BJP won only one seat compared to the Congress’ six. In 1999, the BJP made a clean sweep of all the seven seats.

This time around, the contest has become tougher after the demography of the constituencies changed post-delimitation.

After the parliamentary constituencies were redrawn, three constituencies - Delhi Sadar, Karol Bagh and Outer Delhi - have ceased to exist and three new ones - Northwest Delhi, Northeast Delhi and West Delhi - have been formed. Now each parliamentary constituency has 10 assembly segments and has an average of 1.58 million voters.

Northwest Delhi has the highest number of voters, nearly 1.79 million, while the lowest number of voters are in New Delhi, 1.36 million. The highest number of contestants is in Chandni Chowk (41) and the lowest in in West Delhi and South Delhi (15 each).

The elections will seal the fate of two ministers of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government - Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibbal, who is fighting from Chandni Chowk against the BJP’s Vijendra Gupta, and Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken, who faces BJP’s general secretary Vijay Goel in New Delhi.

Another key contest will be for the East Delhi seat where cricketer-turned-politician and BJP leader Chetan Chauhan has challenged sitting MP Sandeep Dikshit, the son of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Congress bigwigs Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were dropped as candidates from South Delhi and Northeast Delhi respectively after a row over their role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Star campaigners of all major political parties like Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani and BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati have campaigned in the city.

Nearly 56,000 police personnel will be deployed across the city Thursday. A total of 193 polling booths have been identified as sensitive and 32 as hyper-sensitive.

(Mayank Aggarwal can be contacted at

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