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MCD poll fever peaks on last day of campaign

Delhi,Politics, Fri, 13 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election's fever reached its peak Friday, the last day of campaigning before the voting April 15.


"We are trying to catch up with as many voters as possible through door-to-door campaign on the last day," said Nandini Sharma, Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate from Hauz Rani ward in south Delhi.


In the initial days of campaign, the candidates seemed to be using loudspeakres sparingly but in the last two days these were extensively used.


While some nominees used battery-operated, hand-held loudspeakers, some used the larger versions and mounted them on cycle-rickshaws for making announcements and shouting slogans.


"This time, the campaigning was largely quiet. But I guess now that the election is so close, they are pulling out all stops," said Green Park resident Rajesh Kumar on the last-day frenzy.


Some said the carnival spirit was missing from the campaign in this civic elections due to the state election commission's strict code of conduct which banned poster campaigns and restricted the use of loudspeakers.


The poll panel warned of action under provisions of the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act.


According to the Act, which came into force in March 2009, sticking of posters and banners and wall-writings on public properties is a cognizable offence. The penalty is a fine of up to Rs.50,000, a jail term of up to one year, or both.


As the 5.30 p.m. deadline for ending the campaign came closer, candidates and their supporters zipped across their wards in vehicles to cover maximum ground.


Many cars bearing stickers with candidates' photographs and election symbols, could be seen on the roads.


Sanjay Singh, the driver of one of such car, said that the "stickers are not against the regulations. Anyways, I like the candidate of my area so I have put his stickers on my car".


From south Delhi's Katwaria Sarai to Chandni Chowk in the old city, women could be seen wearing dupattas representing the colours of their party flag. While Congress supporters preferred saffron, white and green dupattas, the BJP campaigners sported saffron and green dupattas.


Lapel pins in the shape of Congress's election symbol 'hand' or BJP's symbol 'lotus' could also be seen on the dresses of supporters.


Poll candidates in Karol Bagh area offered savouries such as puri-sabzi and jalebis to woo the voters.


"They distribute food and sweets now, instead of liquor, so it is a good thing. Earlier, the people would go drunk during elections and create nuisance," said Anita Kumari, a Rajinder Nagar resident.


Since the posters couldn't be placed on public properties, the candidates, including those from the Congress and the BJP, advertised on authorised billboards and advertising spaces along roads and metro tracks.


One such Congress advertisement read "Dilli ki muskan aur khilegi" (Delhi's smile will get bigger, if the party is voted to power). A BJP billboard countered with claims of their leaders' "Saral vyaktitva, kushal netritva" (simple personality, capable leadership).


Campaigning for the civic polls also saw some filmstars, sportsmen and political bigwigs including Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leader B.C. Khanduri, actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, actor Sanjay Dutt, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Siddhu and cricketer Virender Sehwag.


There are 272 seats in the MCD, of which 172 are held by the BJP and 67 by the Congress. Close to 10 million voters are eligible to cast their ballot April 15.


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