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In Khurana's home turf

By Lalit K Jha

NEW DELHI NOV. 18. The Sadar parliamentary constituency, which is in sharp focus right now because of the high-profile contest between the veteran BJP leader, Madan Lal Khurana, and his young Congress opponent, Alka Lamba, has been a story of contrasts in the past two Delhi Assembly elections. While the 1993 Assembly polls saw the BJP win all five seats, in 1998 the Congress, riding the crest of a wave won all except the Moti Nagar seat. The Sadar Lok Sabha constituency comprises Timarpur, Model Town, Kamla Nagar, Sadar Bazar and Moti Nagar Assembly segments. The Moti Nagar constituency has a maximum of 105, 868 voters, followed by 105,507 in Model Town; 103,635 in Timarpur; 87,708 in Kamla Nagar and 87, 537 in Sadar Bazar.

All eyes will be on Moti Nagar where Mr. Khurana is pitted against the young and charming Alka Lamba of the Congress. Dominated by Punjabis (33 per cent) and Brahmins (10 per cent) besides a strong trading community (29 per cent), Moti Nagar is considered a stronghold of the former Chief Minister. In last year's Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls the BJP lost this seat for the first time. A veteran of many a political battle, Mr. Khurana won the seat in 1993 by a margin of 9,138 votes defeating Anjali Rai of the Congress. In the 1998 polls, Avinash Sahani of the BJP defeated his nearest Congress opponent, Kanwaljit Singh, by 3,309 votes. In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP got 13,333 more votes than the Congress.

The adjoining Timarpur constituency also has a huge presence of Punjabis (36 per cent), Rajputs (15 per cent) and Scheduled Castes (13 per cent). The expelled Congress MLA, Jagdish Anand, who has since joined the BJP, is the sitting MLA from this seat. He had defeated Raghuvansh Singhal of the BJP by 7,852 votes. In 1993, BJP's Rajender Gupta had won by 5,056 votes over his Congress rival, Hari Shanker Gupta. In the 2002 municipal elections, the Congress polled 9,943 more votes than the BJP. This time the Congress has fielded the sitting Councillor, Surinder Pal Singh Bittoo, and the BJP has opted for Mr. Gupta as a safe bet. However, the party may find the going tough in view of Mr. Anand's entry into the party and it will find it hard to defend the past five years of Mr.Anand's performance.

In the Model Town constituency, dominated by the business community, it is a tough battle between the sitting MLA, Kanwar Karan Singh, and the new face put up by the BJP, Ashok Aggarwal, considered very close to Mr. Khurana. In the 1993 elections, Charti Lal Goel of the BJP had won the seat by 2,338 votes defeating his Congress rival, Kanwar Karan Singh. Mr. Karan Singh took revenge in 1998 and won the seat by defeating his nearest BJP rival by 11,039 votes. This margin increased to 18,576 votes in the 2002 municipal elections. Here the Congress now is facing internal dissensions and the party could suffer on that count.

It is once again the traders and the businessmen who will decide the fate of the candidate for the Kamla Nagar seat. The sitting MLA, Shadi Ram of the Congress, had defeated P. K. Chandla of the BJP by 6,386 votes in the 1998 polls. During the 1993 polls, Mr. Chandla had won the seat by 6,021 votes. While the Congress got 373 votes less than the BJP in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, the party polled 9,905 more during the 2002 municipal elections. The 20 per cent Scheduled Caste population is going to play a very important role now in deciding who emerges victorious from this seat. Mr. Shadi Ram faces Surya Prakash, of the BJP this time.

Except for the 1993 Assembly polls, the Congress has always won the Sadar Bazar seat. The constituency has a sizeable presence of the Muslim population followed by Jatavs. In 1993, BJP's Hari Krishan won the seat by of 1,339 votes, while in 1998 the Congress's Rajesh Jain defeated the sitting MLA by a huge margin of 16,368 votes. This time again, Mr. Jain faces Raghuvansh Singhal of the BJP. While in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls the margin of the Congress lead was 4,985, it rose to 16,001 votes during last year's municipal polls.

Except for Moti Nagar, the BSP does not seem to have any significant presence in the Delhi Sadar parliamentary constituency. Here again decongestion, blatant commercialisation, lack of basic civic amenities and poor infrastructure are going to be major election issues.

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