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Delhi polls: BJP banks on Centre’s sops to win back Sikh trust, vote

As BJP begins its campaigning, workers say the party's decision to give compensation to the families of victims will one of the key factors in the election.

Last Updated: Jan 26, 2015, 11.15 AM IST
(This story originally appeared in on Jan 26, 2015)
NEW DELHI: Anticipating a neck-and-neck contest with AAP on February 7, BJP is making concerted efforts to win back Hari Nagar and Tilak Nagar constituencies, the two Sikh strongholds that it had lost to the former in the 2013 assembly polls. The party is now banking on key announcements made by the central government for welfare of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims to win trust of the community. But residents say these are not decisive factors any more.

"It's been three decades and successive governments have denied us justice. People don't vote for a party because of these announcements," said a member of a victim's family which received a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in December last year.

As BJP begins its campaigning, workers say the party's decision to give compensation to the families of victims will one of the key factors in the election. "It is an important issue. BJP is the first party to have understood the problems and done something. The recent decision to give compensation will help the party,'' said Avtar Singh 'Hit', SAD (Badal) leader who is contesting on the BJP symbol from Hari Nagar.

AAP candidate and former MLA from Hari Nagar, Jagdeep Singh, disagrees. "People want justice. What has BJP done? AAP is the only party which had set up an SIT to look into the riots. We passed it in the cabinet and had sent it to the LG," said Singh.

Till 2013, BJP had never lost an election in Hari Nagar. Locals say this election will be fought on the issue of development. "The riots are a matter, but not a key issue any more. There will be a neck-and-neck contest between AAP and BJP—both in Hari Nagar and Tilak Nagar," said Joginder Singh, a retired government employee and a resident of Hari Nagar. AAP bagged this seat in the last election.

In Tilak Nagar too, the community plays a decisive factor. In 2013, former AAP's Jarnail Singh defeated BJP candidate Rajeev Babbar by 2,400 votes. Rajeev's father, O P Babbar, is a senior BJP member who represented the constituency for over a decade.

"It is important for us to win here. Apart from what BJP has done for the community, work done by central government and our party's decision to project Kiran Bedi as CM candidate will help the party garner support of the community," said Rajeev.

Congress, which doesn't enjoy the support of the Sikh community in these areas, feels this time things will be different as there is "anger" against BJP's candidate Avtar Singh Hit, who is from SAD (Badal) but is contesting on BJP's symbol. "People are upset with Avtar Singh Hit. Rajeev Babbar lost the last election. BJP's drama to give compensation to the 1984 riot victims will not help them,'' said CP Mittal, Congress candidate from Hari Nagar.
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