Capital in limbo

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Capital in limbo

Key issues missing as alliance brinkmanship means just 1 AAP nomination 2 days before the deadline; BJP, Cong yet to name candidates

Ishal Mishra, a resident of Mehrauli, considers exercising franchise his duty. But, the 35-year-old voter is confused for he doesn't know who all are contesting from the South Delhi seat that he comes from. I only know one candidate from AAP. I do not know why the other two parties have not declared their candidates. We need time to judge them and then decide who we want to vote. I haven't seen so much delay before.

The polling day is less than three weeks from now, said Mishra, echoing sentiments of tens of thousands of voters of Delhi who are still unaware who their candidates on May 12 would be. For many months now, AAP and the Congress have been discussing the possibility of stitching an alliance. The sticking point is AAP's demand to extend the proposed alliance to Haryana. Congress wants to limit any partnership to Delhi only.

The Congress has been doing time pass and it had no intention of having an alliance in Haryana BJP is confused about what the strategy should be. That is why it has not announced candidates in Delhi so far, Manish Sisodia, AAP leader and deputy CM, Delhi said on Sunday calling the Haryana chapter closed.' His party colleague and Rajya Sabha member, Sanjay Singh, however, hinted AAP was ready to consider further negotiations with the Congress.

As uncertainty reigns, the deadline for filing nominations remains two days away on April 23. For now, neither the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nor the Congress have announced names of candidates so far. The ruling AAP has named candidates for all seven seats, but only one candidate, Balbir Singh Jakhar has file his nomination for West Delhi seat so far. AAP leader, Gopal Rai said on Friday that the party has deferred the dates of filing nominations to April 22, instead of April 18.

Even my students ask me who are candidates in Delhi. In the battle of egos the parties have left people of Delhi in a state of confusion, said Rameez Raja, another voter who is a teacher at a college of IP university in South Delhi's Alaknanda.

AAP has already stitched an alliance in Haryana, with the Jannayak Janata (JJP) Party where it will fight three of the ten seats, leaving the rest for the Dushyant Chautala-led JJP. The Congress, on its part, has, finalized its candidates and may announce the names in a day or two. Sources said Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk, JP Aggarwal from North East Delhi, Ajay Maken from New Delhi, Rajkumar Chauhan from North West Delhi are the names. Some reports even suggested that former CM and incumbent president of Delhi Congress Sheila Dikshit might also contest, preferably from North East or Chandni Chowk seat. But all this will depend on whether or not the alliance will happen, said a Congress leader who did not want to be named.

BJP, seeking to repeat its performance at all seven seats, is yet to name its candidates, is also to declare the names of candidates in seven seats of Delhi, perhaps, curiously waiting for a final decision on the alliance. Some unconfirmed reports said BJP has kept two lists ready for both, alliance or no alliance, situations.

Kejriwal's eagerness to form an alliance with Congress in Delhi is an insult of a massive mandate given by the people of Delhi, said Manoj Tiwari,

BJP's Delhi unit head who also blamed Congress for practising politics of opportunism by trying form an alliance. Amid the confusion, the issues for the state of Delhi that should have been debated by politicians in the poll season have been buried under the carpet. From statehood to national security, sealing to water supply, unauthorized colonies to pollution, a spectrum of issues were expected to play a role when Delhi voters on May 12.

There has been a delay, though slightly. But fortunately, Lok Sabha seats in Delhi are not as big. A worker can move around easily. But whatever AAP and Congress have been doing is pure political bargaining, said Vipul Mudgal, from the Common Cause, an organization that works on transparency and accountability in governments.

In the absence of an alliance, the contest in the National Capital will be a three-way fight between AAP, Congress and the BJP. AAP, led by CM Arvind Kejriwal, started the campaign, ahead of other two other parties, making a strong pitch for its demand seeking full statehood for Delhi.

Give us (AAP) seven MPs, we will make sure Delhi gets full statehood status, Kejriwal said in a letter to the people of Delhi. BJP is seeking to repeat its performance at all seven seats and the Congress, buoyed by its recent performances in three states and a new president of Delhi unit in three-time CM Sheila Dikshit has expressed confidence of bouncing back with a stellar performance.

While statehood for Delhi and performance in health and education sectors will be high on AAP's agenda, Congress will try its best to count achievements of its 15-year rule in Delhi besides the issues discussed nationally. For BJP, Narendra Modi government's achievements at the Centre and Arvind Kejriwal's Delhi government failure are expected to be on poll agenda for next two months before Delhi goes to polls on May 12. As many as 1.36 crore voters, comprising 75.5 lakh men and 61.3 lakh women voters will be eligible to cast their vote this time, according to the office of Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi. This includes 97,684 voters who are in the age group of 18-19 years.