Delhi Assembly election: BJP, AAP deploy top leaders but Congress candidates face void in campaign management

  • With just nine days left for campaigning to end for the Assembly polls, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal along with an army of AAP supporters is holding roadshows every day

  • The BJP, which lost Delhi to the Congress in 1998, has engaged Union ministers, chief ministers and parliamentarians to garner support for its candidates to bring back the national capital into its fold

  • However, the same cannot be said about the Congress, which lost the national capital to the AAP in 2013 and faced a massive drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls

New Delhi: Unlike the BJP and the ruling AAP which have deployed a battery of top leaders, including MPs and ministers, for canvassing for the 8 February Delhi polls, the Congress is yet to see its big guns like Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit the campaign trail.

With just nine days left for campaigning to end for the Assembly polls, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal along with an army of AAP supporters is holding roadshows every day, while his ministers are addressing gatherings in Delhi's 70 Assembly constituencies in a bid to retain power.

The BJP, which lost Delhi to the Congress in 1998, has engaged Union ministers, chief ministers and parliamentarians to garner support for its candidates to bring back the national capital into its fold, after losing Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.

 Delhi Assembly election: BJP, AAP deploy top leaders but Congress candidates face void in campaign management

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. PTI

However, the same cannot be said about the Congress, which lost the National Capital to the AAP in 2013 and faced a massive drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, not winning any of the seven parliamentary seats.

The void in its campaign management is being felt by several party candidates, leaving many confused in the face of fierce canvassing by their rivals.

Many are perplexed over why big leaders have not started campaigning for party candidates yet, a Congress candidate from south Delhi said in an oblique reference to Rahul and Priyanka.

However, senior leaders said that the Gandhis will start campaigning from 2 February.

Most senior Delhi Congress leaders are either contesting the polls or have their kins in the fray. DPCC president Subhash Chopra has fielded his daughter Shivani from Kalkaji, while campaign committee chief Kirti Azad's wife is contesting from Sangam Vihar.

A senior Delhi Congress leader said Rahul and Priyanka will soon address rallies and hold roadshows. They had campaigned in the Lok Sabha polls.

"There has been no delay. Our senior leaders like Raj Babbar are campaigning. The BJP has deployed all its senior leaders because they are scared and frustrated," he said.

With an aim to recapture power, the top leadership of the BJP — Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda — have been holding daily roadshows and public meetings.

It has also deployed Union Ministers, chief ministers, party MPs and an army of volunteers.

Azad said the Congress's election schedule is ready and senior party leaders will hold roadshows and meetings in the coming days in all the constituencies, across Delhi.

AICC incharge of the Delhi Congress PC Chacko said the party's campaign has been going on in a systematic way through candidate-centric canvassing.

He said its star campaigners have been saved for the last lap of campaigning.

"Right now, our candidates and workers are going door-to-door in the constituencies. We are also forming committees, deputing workers and assigning them works at booth level," Chacko said.

Unlike the BJP and the AAP whose prominent leaders are on the ground, the Congress's star campaigners will be involved in the climax of the campaigning from 2 to 6 February, he said.

"Party leaders, including president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra, are also likely to join the campaigning in the last leg and their programmes are being finalised today," Chacko said.

Once a dominant player in Delhi politics, the Congress under the chief ministership of Sheila Dikshit ruled the national capital from 1998-2013.

However, its was dislodged from power in 2013. Since then the party prospects have been on a descent.

In 2013, the party bagged 24 percent of the total votes and in 2014 Lok Sabha polls held six months later, it slipped to 15 percent. But it fell drastically to 9.7 in 2015 — a chunk of it went to the AAP with whom it shares a similar voter base.

In the 2017 MCD polls, the Congress improved its vote share to nearly 21 percent. In 2019, it dislodged the AAP to the third position, bagging 22 percent of the votes.

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Updated Date: Jan 30, 2020 00:08:38 IST