Delhi dilemma: which way will voters swing?

November 26th, 2008 - 10:18 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) The Indian capital, home to 16 million people, is all set to vote in the assembly polls Saturday. But even as analysts say that genuine issues - namely, development, price rise and terrorism - are on the poll agenda this time, voters don’t seem to have made up their minds yet.In almost all political meetings addressed by both the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) across the city, candidates and their respective political bosses inevitably raise these three issues, also striking a chord with voters.

“This time around where the stakes are high for both parties, they have raised real issues that affect people. The BJP is harping on the failure of the Congress to keep a check on inflation and the mouting terror strikes while the latter is playing its trump card on its developmental record,” political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, who predicts it will be a tight contest, told IANS.

Around 10.7 million people are eligible to cast their votes for elections to the 70-member Delhi assembly. Campaigning will end Thursday.

Voters have been turning up in huge numbers to attend the numerous political rallies, but many are yet to make up their mind about which party would be best suited to tackle these issues when voted to power.

For many families who live above the bread line in the city, price blips have hurt.

“Even in winter when the prices of vegetables are supposed to be cheap, there is no respite. Everything has become expensive and this has made me worried,” says Rajan, 28, who makes a living by selling snacks and tea in a makeshift shelter outside the Holy Family Hospital.

“Political parties have been making promises as always but nobody does anything for the poor. This time I will think hard before casting my vote.”

Middle class families feel political parties have raised the best possible issues concerning their lives, but they too seem confused about whom to vote for as nothing changes with a change in government.

“Both the BJP and the Congress promise to fulfil the dream of a good and secure life and they campaign to woo voters accordingly. For me, the issue of security arising out of terrorism and inflation are important questions. But will these dreams ever be translated into action?” queries Mohammed Tariq, 30, a journalist.

Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, while kicking off her first rally in the city over the weekend in northwest Delhi’s Mongolpuri, focussed precisely on these issues.

“Terrorists have no religion and their only motive is to spread terror and fear in society. Terrorism should not be associated with any religion or community, but some political parties do it as a part of their divisive politics,” she said.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikhit, also of the Congress, asked people to vote for her party because of the development works carried out in her two terms and held out the promise of making the capital a “world class” city in her next tenure.

The BJP, on its part, has used every trick in the book - from releasing huge ads in newspapers and local movie channels on the cable network, billboards and FM radio stations - to project itself as the only alternative.

“Terrorism and inflation figure prominently in our campaigns as on both counts the Congress has failed miserably. We will usher in a model for governance where people are safe and secure,” said the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate V.K. Malhotra.

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