Will North-East Delhi prove to be the Waterloo for Delhi Congress president Jai Prakash Agarwal? The underbelly of Delhi has in the past proved to be disastrous for Agarwal’s illustrious predecessors like Har Kishan Lal Bhagat, Deep Chand Bandhi and Sheila Dikshit. Of the three only Sheila Dikshit could recover from defeat in the Lok Sabha polls from here.
For Bhagat, defeat at the hands of Baikunth Lal Sharma Prem proved to be the end of the road with the towering leader being reduced to a political pygmy within few years. The supporters of Agarwal are, however, taking solace from the fact that post-delimitation the seat has turned pro-Congress.
“The North East Delhi seat is considered pro Congress seat after the delimitation. This time, Congress will win the seat with a huge margin,” said Agarwal, who began his padyatra from Hudson Lane in Timarpur to Vijay Nagar Double Storey, Malikpur Village, Indira Vihar and Indira Vikas Colony on Monday.
Congress stalwart HKL Bhagat was Delhi Congress president in 1991 when he lost the Lok Sabha elections from East Delhi to a little known but firebrand and rather sectarian leader called Baikunth Lal Sharma ‘Prem.’ The BJP has once again fielded Prem bringing him out of political retirement.
Pro-Agarwal elements, however, claim that Bhagat lost the 1991 election due to the presence of three Rams — Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, Kanshi Ram and Ram Lahar – in the fray. All the three are said have dented the Congress votebank.
In 1996, Prem again defeated Delhi Congress president Deep Chand Bandhu, a Jat leader over two lakh votes. Bhagat had contested as a rebel candidate. In 1998, the Congress fielded Sheila Dikshit from East Delhi whereas the BJP fielded Lal Bihari Tiwary as Prem went into political hibernation. She lost due to internal infightings as local leaders did not support her. Bhagat was once again in the fray as a rebel. Dikshit missed it by a whisker.
On these three occasions, the BJP leader won because his election agents had past data of voting patterns of every single ward in the sprawling constituency, knew every block level leader by name, knew their children and their birthdays and could guide you through every single lane. Both Prem and Tiwary won because BJP leaders made it a point to attend every wedding and birthday celebration of their party workers.