Ajay Maken, sitting Congress MP from New Delhi Lok Sabha seat, is giving the fight to retain the seat for the third term all he has, criss-crossing his constituency from morning till night, and bristles at criticism of being termed a "missing MP".
On the final day of campaigning Tuesday, which ends at 5 p.m., Maken met residents of Gulmohar Park, a tree-lined journalists' colony, at an interaction over breakfast. To criticism of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opponent Meenakshi Lehkhi's jibe, terming him a "missing MP", Maken snaps: "What does she mean by missing MP."
"I am an MP, and was a cabinet minister, I can't be a councillor. I have to perform as minister, I have to be accessible as a sports minister.. As urban development minister I have to be accessible," Maken told IANS on the sidelines of the meeting. "As a minister I have done everything to help people.. All the sports people whom I have helped as sports minister live here, as an urban development minister, all those I have helped live here. So I am missing the point if she says I am a missing MP."
"I have come here and worked in this huge constituency. But she has never lived, so how can she say anything?" Maken said.
The Congress general secretary in charge of communication said his prospects of getting re-elected were very good. "The chances are very good. I am getting very good response," he said.
To prospect of the Congress winning in the 10 assembly seats that fall in his constituency whenever the Delhi elections are held, Maken said he was very confident of the party doing well. Though he was late by over an hour, most senior residents of Gulmohar Park had stayed back to listen to Maken.
As he smilingly met the gathering of residents, mostly senior journalists, at the Gulmohar Club, Maken, 50, did not reveal any signs of tiredness, though he arrived straight from a long padyatra in Vasant Gaon, which he had begun at 7 am.
In his brief chat with the residents, Maken elaborated his achievements as minister and urged for support.
He did not touch upon the Congress party or the United Progressive Alliance, realising perhaps that it would prove a touchy topic what with opinion polls projecting a drubbing for the party that has been in power for a decade. "I have tried to leave an imprint in whatever work I have undertaken," Maken said. "And one thing I can say with pride - that there are no allegations of corruption against me.. There is no daag (black mark) against me," he said to a round of applause.
Answering in his own way allegations of corruption targetting his party, Maken said "Lke in a large family, there are good people and those not so good. In a party too, there are good honest people, and some who are not," he said, appealing for votes on the basis of his "proven track record"
His elaboration on the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill 2013, which he piloted and got introduced in the Rajya Sabha, aroused residents' interest. "The bill is intended to prevent developers from deceiving people by promising large floor area in advertisements of proposed flats, but when they deliver the flat it is much smaller. The bill is to make developers define carpet area, wall to wall, in their ads," he said.
According to the bill, a regulatory authority would be in charge and the developer would be answerable for any delay in delivery of flats, said Maken. Many residents crowded around him to ask about the bill and Maken patiently answered their questions, before whizzing away to his next election campaign destination -- Kathputli Gaon.