The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rivals make poll capital of gutted Delhi slum

New Delhi, June 2: The ruling Congress in Delhi and the Opposition BJP are already feeling the heat of Assembly elections, even though they are slated for the end of this year.

The two parties are leaving no stone unturned to exploit every bit of vote bank politics, the latest being a large section of slum-dwellers.

The parties are trading accusations over a fire last Saturday that gutted a slum cluster in Kirti Nagar in west Delhi, parts of which were already demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

The cluster of some 1,000 jhuggis is believed to be a stronghold of the Congress and had been put on notice by the DDA for demolition.

The Reshma Camp slum cluster also falls in the parliamentary constituency of BJP state chief Madan Lal Khurana, who charged Congress workers with torching hundreds of jhuggis in Kirti Nagar.

In a statement issued today, Khurana said a team of BJP leaders would soon meet Lt Governor Vijai Kapoor, demanding a high-level probe into the incident.

Denying any role played by his party, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Subash Chopra challenged Khurana to get a probe ordered into the incident.

“The allegations made by the BJP were borne out of frustration of its city president Madan Lal Khurana, who fears that the residents there would contribute to his defeat in the next election,” Chopra said, reacting to the Opposition’s allegation.

Interestingly, four Delhi ministers — Ajay Maken, Haroon Yusuf, Rajkumar Chauhan and A.K. Walia — had sat on a dharna in west Delhi in an attempt to stop the demolition. But police took them into preventive custody so that the illegal clusters could be pulled down.

The Congress is not taking the coming Assembly polls lightly, going by the fact that issues like electricity and water supply are likely to make its battle tough.

The BJP has somehow not been able to come up with any fresh issue to attract the attention of voters.

Other than this, say party insiders, what is giving nightmares to the top brass in both parties is the internal squabbling.

While ruling party chief minister Sheila Dikshit is facing strong resistance from Chopra, the BJP has turned out to be a multi-headed monster.

Other than Khurana, heavyweights in the Delhi BJP who want to have a share in the state election pie are Union ministers Sahib Singh Verma, Vijay Goel and Arun Jaitley.

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