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Sheila’s charm conquers Delhi

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Wins from New Delhi by 13,951 votes; Malhotra wins but BJP loses

It’s a hat-trick: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit being greeted by sisters Pam Malhotra and Rama Dhawan at her residence on Monday after the party’s victory in Delhi State Assembly elections for the third consecutive time. (Right) BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Vijay Kumar Malhotra won from Greater Kailash.

NEW DELHI: There were some false alarms and a few premature celebrations, but in the end it was the Congress that performed the victory dance outside the counting centres in the New Delhi constituency on Monday. Leading the winning team was Sheila Dikshit of the Congress who was elected to the Delhi Assembly for the third time in a row.

Walking away with 39,747 votes, Ms. Dikshit, all set now for a third five-year term as Delhi Chief Minister, won by 13,951 votes from New Delhi. Her closet contender, Vijay Jolly of BJP, polled 25,796 votes.

Flashing the victory sign, Ms. Dikshit -- accompanied by son Sandeep Dikshit and sister Rama Dhawan -- attributed the big win to “development work” carried out by her government over the past ten years.

Outside the counting centre, crowds jostled with heavy police deployment to catch Ms. Dikshit’s attention, prompting the police to tighten the security cordon surrounding her. “She is happy. We haven’t spoken yet, just hugged each other,” said a beaming Rama Dhawan.

Among the first to be declared winners, Tarwinder Singh Marwah from Jangpura and Neeraj Basoya from Kasturba Nagar had their supporters ready with the victory procession complete with flower-decked cars and banners. Joyous supporters carried Basoya halfway to the polling centre in Gole Market on their shoulders. “We were expecting this win and now we will have a huge celebration,” said a Basoya supporter. Mr. Basoya polled 33,772 votes against Sushil Chaudhary of the BJP (31,418).

Celebrations were subdued outside polling booth No. 43 where Congress’ Kiran Walia beat BJP’s Ram Bhaj by 4,739 votes to win the Malviya Nagar seat. The BJP supporters, who were happy after the first round where Mr. Ram Bhaj was leading, had to contend with this loss after the final round.

At counting booth No.50, BJP’s Vijay Kumar Malhotra’s winning streak lasted from round one to the very end. Mr. Malhotra with 42,197 votes beat Congress’ J. K. Kochar by 11,218 votes to secure the Greater Kailash seat.

The R.K. Puram seat was bagged by the Congress’ Barkha Singh with 35,860 votes. BJP’s R. S. Sharma managed 26,546 votes. Because of her healthy lead over her closest competitor, her supporters were in an upbeat mood much before the final tally.

News of BJP’s S.P. Ratwal’s win cheered many anxious supporters outside the counting centre in Pusa. Mr. Ratwal won by 3,410 votes to claim the Karol Bagh seat. His nearest rival, Congress’ Madan Khorwal, polled 35,336 votes.

“Though at times it was a close contest, we were always confident of winning. The party has not fared well in most other areas but the people of this area have rejected the Congress and opted for the BJP because they want a change,” said a member of Mr. Ratwal’s support group.

Subhash Sachdeva of the BJP retained the Moti Nagar seat, beating Anjali Rai of the Congress by 15,001 votes. Mr. Sachdeva bagged 46,613 votes as against Ms. Rai’s 31,612. This is the second time Ms. Rai lost the election from this Assembly segment. She had earlier lost the seat to BJP’s Madan Lal Khurana in 1993.

Former Mayor Anita Arya’s hopes of election from Patel Nagar were dashed by Rajesh Lilothia of the Congress. Ms. Arya, who was contesting as the BJP candidate, was defeated by 9,508 votes.

News of BJP’s Kawar Singh Tanwar’s victory from Delhi Cantonment did little to lift the mood of his supporters saddened by their party’s debacle at the counting table. With news of the party’s poor performance rushing in, the winning shots were few and far between. Mr. Tanwar beat Ashok Ahuja of the Congress by 7,261 votes.

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