Sheila Dikshit’s popularity helps, says MP son (Interview)April 12th, 2009 - 10:00 am ICT by IANS
By Mayank Aggarwal
New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Sandeep Dikshit, the Congress MP who is seeking a second term from East Delhi, is banking heavily on the “development work” in his constituency in the last five years that has made the area more “liveable” with better transport and power facilities.
He admits the popularity of his mother, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, will benefit him.
“Certainly her popularity would help me as well as all the other candidates. After all she is a Congress leader and we are Congress candidates,” Dikshit, 44, told IANS in an interview.
Asked if the pressure of being the chief minister’s son gets to him, he said: “In terms of pressure, sometimes it does. People feel that you will be able to get things done faster.
“But I think the pressure comes with advantages. After all, people also vote for you because you are the chief minister’s son. You get an added advantage. I have never thought it is much of a liability - the pressure.”
In 2004, Dikshit won by nearly 229,000 votes. But after the delimitation exercise, several areas of East Delhi have gone into the newly formed Northeast Delhi constituency.
The densely populated east Delhi area has a large concentration of hutments, slums, urban villages as well as middle class societies and apartments with an electoral population of a little over 1.6 million.
“Eighty percent of my constituency is old. I have no problem in that area. We have two new (assembly) constituencies (added post- delimitation) - Okhla and Jangpura. Most of my meetings are held in this area so that we can meet people. In any case, a new area is always easier because there is no anti-incumbency,” he said.
He is banking a lot on ‘padyatras’ (campaigning on foot) and small meetings.
On the development work carried out in his area, the alumnus of Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College said: “When I came, the Commonwealth Games were on the anvil. Delhi Development Authority and others were trying to pull off all the sites to west Delhi.
“We stopped that and brought many of them to east Delhi. A lot of the development taking place is due to the Games investments.
“In the 1998-2003 period, there were hardly any flyovers and under-bridges with traffic intersections, improvements done in east Delhi. All of them normally were done in south Delhi.
“So we worked a lot with the chief minister, the trans-Yamuna area development board and the Public Works Department. Now at 12 major flyovers, construction is going on,” he added.
He highlighted improvements in transport and power facilities as the main achievements during his term and said the area had certainly become more liveable in the last five years.
Asked about allegations that during his term he was not seen much in his constituency and the credit for all projects in the area went to the Delhi government and not him, he said that was not true.
“It is because we were able to put pressure; otherwise east Delhi normally does not get such projects,” he said.
When asked if the Congress being in power in Delhi helped, he replied: “Yes, it has benefited a lot.”
The MP, who starts campaigning very early in the morning and goes on till late night, also has several plans up his sleeve if elected again.
Dikshit wants to develop the Yamuna Khadar area - a green area where no building can be constructed - as a public park and improve sanitation facilities. He also wants to work for ensuring small and micro credit for employment.
He, however, refrained from saying anything about his main rival, cricketer-turned-politician Chetan Chauhan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from East Delhi.
“I was a big fan of Chetan Chauhan. I have nothing to say about the opposition. Even last time I never said anything about Lal Bihari Tiwariji. I don’t believe I need to compare myself with him. People should select the best person, not the least-of-the-worst person.
“Even these TV debates and all are something I am not in favour of. What happens in TV debate is that we try and pull each other down. That is not a healthy thing. He (Chauhan) is a respected person and has been an MP,” he said.
Dikshit has not opened his election office in the constituency yet. The seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi will go to the polls May 7.
Asked about his family support during campaigning, he said: “Of course, the chief minister will campaign for us like a chief minister. My wife campaigns, but not so much; she is not a very political person. She has taken leave and will give her time to meetings.
“In the backroom, my sister Latika always helps and then my aunt Ramaji, who has always run all the family election campaigns, is there.”
(Mayank Aggarwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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