New Delhi: Wearing their trademark white and saffron caps respectively, thousands of AAP and BJP supporters from across India have swamped Delhi to do their bit for what is a do-or-die election for both parties. Students, doctors, engineers, lawyers, activists and even common labourers, they can now be spotted all over the national capital seeking support for the BJP or the AAP.
In sheer numbers, the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal seems to have edged out the Bharatiya Janata Party. Both parties are determined to outdo the other in the Saturday battle.
Most BJP campaigners from outside Delhi, estimated at about 15,000, have come from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
The 20,000-strong AAP army is drawn dominantly from Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.
Many are staying with friends and relatives. Others prefer the premises of BJP and AAP offices that have sprung up in all 70 constituencies.
From early in the morning, these volunteers branch out in constituencies allotted to them, soliciting support. Many position themselves outside the Delhi Metro stations and other hubs distributing pamphlets and caps.
BJP campaigners sport saffron caps. AAP caps are white in colour. Both have their party names and election symbols -- BJP`s lotus and AAP`s broom -- printed on them.
Amitabh Goswami, 31, an engineer from Bengaluru, has been in Delhi for a week. He and his friends stay at a friend`s house at Mukherjee Nagar near Delhi University and campaign for AAP`s Akhilesh Pati Tripathi, a former legislator.
All are engineers in the same company and are on leave, Goswami told IANS.
AAP`s Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur told IANS that over 20,000 AAP volunteers from other states were now in Delhi.
"From Punjab, more than 1,500 volunteers are helping AAP candidates. They mostly stay at party offices and houses of party leaders," he said.
"Four hundred of us have come from Madhya Pradesh," said Pankaj Singh of the AAP, adding 62 volunteers from Chhattisgarh were camping in Krishna Nagar, where BJP`s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi is contesting.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana told IANS that his party`s volunteers were staying at their own cost.
"We have farmers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen and poor people from outside rubbing shoulders here," he said.
Balwant Singh, a farmer from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh and a BJP supporter, said he reached Delhi Jan 25. He is campaigning for Najafgarh candidate Ajeet Singh Khadkhari. Three of his relatives have also come to Delhi.
In comparison to the all four MPs of the AAP from Punjab, more than 120 MPs of the BJP are campaigning in Delhi besides several central ministers, a few chief ministers and party leaders from several states.
BJP leaders hold five to 10 rallies every day. The BJP`s campaign leader is of course Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress, which is struggling to stay relevant in the election, says it does not need volunteers from outside Delhi.
"Our party does not need support from outside," party leader Mukesh Sharma told IANS.
A total of 673 candidates are in the fray for Saturday`s polls to the 70-seat Delhi assembly. The results will be out Feb 10.
The 2013 election produced a hung assembly, with the BJP winning 31 seats and the AAP 28. The Congress tumbled from 43 seats to eight.
But with Congress backing, the AAP formed a government. After 49 days, however, Kejriwal resigned in February 2014, leading to President`s Rule.