The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Courting game, mace in hand

New Delhi, Aug. 17: The BJP’s campaign for the forthcoming Assembly polls in Delhi was launched today with a parivartan rath yatra that promises to expose the “failures” of the Sheila Dikshit government.

Before the 35-day yatra was flagged off by Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana, an asvamedha yagna was performed at the Ramjholi temple in Dwarka. Eleven priests were roped in for the occasion aimed to invest the Delhi BJP with “power” to free residents from the government’s “misdeeds”.

Curious onlookers jostled for space with security personnel and party workers — all of whom were invited to witness Khurana perform the yagna.

“It is only the BJP that has not deserted Delhiites in times of distress. And only the BJP can deliver you from everyday problems,” the former chief minister said after the ceremony.

He said the bill for statehood to Delhi would be tabled in Parliament tomorrow. “This shows the commitment of the NDA government for the betterment of Delhi. The Congress has never been bothered about the statehood of Delhi for the last 50 years,” Khurana claimed, holding a mace.

Supporters, waving flags and swords, cheered every time he slammed the Congress government.

The yatra, which was also led by Union ministers B.C. Khanduri, Jagmohan and Sahib Singh Verma and BJP general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, will cover all constituencies. During the yatra, the saffron party will highlight the issues of statehood and the recent controversial master plan guidelines.

A special rath has been borrowed from Rajasthan BJP chief Vasundhara Raje who recently went on a similar yatra.

The Congress, too, had launched a yatra — it was inaugurated by party president Sonia Gandhi last week. Khurana’s vijay kamna yatra, as it has been christened, will see questions being hurled at Dikshit every day. “We will reveal everything when the time comes,” he said.

Some priests were, however, critical of the “lack of originality” in the way the ceremony was performed. “This is one that requires a horse to be set free followed by an army as was done by Lord Ram. Nonetheless, since it has been performed, it will bestow favours on the party,” a middle-aged priest said.

A free horse and an army fortunately did not make an appearance, but the yagna left huge traffic snarls in the narrow dingy lanes of Palam village.

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