This Article is From Nov 18, 2013

Present: Rahul Gandhi. Missing: crowds. Not his fault, says Sheila Dikshit

November 17: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit speaks to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: When Rahul Gandhi, the star campaigner for the Congress, showed up at a rally in Delhi on Sunday, the audience was, well, limited.

Mr Gandhi allegedly cut short his appearance and left after a seven-minute address. (Watch: Rahul Gandhi's speech | Rahul Gandhi lauds Sheila Dikshit's government)

The Congress says the event does not reflect a disinterest among voters in what the young vice-president has to offer.

"It was not a fiasco. I strongly disagree," said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Explaining the scanty audience, she said, "The police were extraordinarily strict, so people were not being allowed in. When water was not allowed in,  people got thirsty and restless and left." (Watch)

But on Sunday, as people began leaving the public park before Mr Gandhi arrived, two hours behind schedule, she was heard pleading, "I know you must be hungry, thirsty... at least listen to Rahulji before leaving."

The Congress is asking for a record fourth consecutive term in Delhi.

Last month, another rally held by Mr Gandhi also delivered a ho-hum turnout.

The BJP has been quick to point out that yesterday, while the Congress event in Delhi appeared flat, its candidate for PM, Narendra Modi, drew nearly three lakh people to a rally in Bangalore.