The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP skirts Modi in Delhi

New Delhi, Nov. 26: Narendra Modi, it seems, is not welcome in the capital.

Maybe, it has something to do with Delhi’s cosmopolitan character, but there are no takers for the Gujarat chief minister, not even his saffron brethren. The mascot of Hindutva is not campaigning for the BJP here.

Although Modi has addressed scores of election rallies in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Delhi BJP leaders are shunning him. He was scheduled to address a few rallies in Delhi but they were cancelled without any explanation even before November 24, the day the ghost of Godhra chased him to a five-star hotel.

Modi had arrived here to address the India Economic Summit organised by the Davos-based World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry. But slogan-shouting demonstrators had disrupted proceedings and he was greeted with slogans like “mass murderer Narendra Modi down, down”.

According to the original schedule of the Delhi BJP unit, Modi was to address meetings at Shalimar Bagh, Tilak Nagar, Tri Nagar and Sultanpuri. Party sources said all four meetings were cancelled as the contesting candidates did not show any interest in Modi.

An analyst offered an explanation. If Left groups and NGOs stage similar protests, instead of helping the BJP, Modi’s presence might boomerang on the party, he said.

Asked about Modi, senior party leaders were cagey. One leader said: “We are finalising the programme for the next two days and will tell you tomorrow.”

According to the party’s campaign schedule till Thursday, Modi is assigned to Madhya Pradesh, where he is to address rallies at six places. That leaves only the last two days for the chief minister before campaigning comes to an end on November 29.

In any case, Delhi is the only state where the BJP does not have much of a hope. Even party leaders admit it in private. With all poll surveys predicting a victory for chief minister Sheila Dikshit, the public mood is easy to guess. On November 20, two public meetings addressed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee failed to draw a big crowd and the response was lukewarm.

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