In Delhi, south Indian leaders woo south Indians!

November 26th, 2008 - 10:33 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have unleashed their influential south Indian leaders to campaign in those areas of Delhi that have a large number of people from the region. “I went with my wife and children to listen to Ramesh Chennithala, Kerala Congress president. He and other Congress leaders from my home state addressed us in Malayalam. For a moment, I thought I was attending a corner meeting somewhere in Kottayam!” said Thomas Mannanam, a book publisher who lives in Dilshad Garden in east Delhi.

Campaigning for the Nov 29 assembly elections has hit a feverish pitch. The votes of south Indians are crucial in constituencies like R.K. Puram, Seemapuri, Shahdara, Kondli and Vikaspuri, say the leaders of both the Congress and the BJP.

However, the two parties have not given tickets to leaders from the south. Also, many of the approximately 1.5 million odd south Indians living in Delhi are not enrolled in the voters’ list.

The campaign targeting Malayali voters was launched by Chennithala last week. Around 1,000 people, including those from the north, attended his meeting in Dilshad Garden. Chennithala, who also speaks Hindi fluently, addressed the people in Hindi too.

“It was a unique experience for me. I was literally excited when people from the north gathered to hear my Hindi speech,” Chennithala told IANS.

“I have appointed a team of Congress leaders from Kerala to hit the Malayali pockets,” he said.

The BJP is no different.

“We have formed different squads of party workers from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to canvass among people from the respective states,” said P. Purushothaman, chief co-ordinator of the BJP’s south Indian cell for Delhi.

“We organise family get-togethers and our senior leaders interact with them. We are doing a systematic and disciplined campaign to win the support of our people,” he said.

This was experimented with in Bangalore during the Karnataka assembly elections and it was a big success, said BJP leader P.K. Krishnadas.

“Our well-organised campaign would help us gather the maximum number of votes of south Indians in favour of the BJP,” he said.

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddiyurappa, former union ministers Pon Radhakrishnan (Tamil Nadu), B. Dattatreya (Andhra Pradesh) and O. Rajagopal (Kerala) are the top leaders campaigning for the BJP.

Yeddiyurappa addressed the Kannada community in Janakpuri last week. Kannada- speaking people residing in the Janakpuri area put up a massive attendance at his meeting, BJP leaders said.

Campaigning in the Delhi assembly polls will conclude Nov 27 and voting for the 70 seats will take place Nov 29.

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