Ballimaran's 5-Time Strongman Haroon Yusuf Hoping For Comeback

Haroon Yusuf, 61, handled the transport and power departments in Sheila Dikshit's cabinet in 2003, when accidents involving the notorious Blueline buses were at their peak.

Ballimaran's 5-Time Strongman Haroon Yusuf Hoping For Comeback

In 2015, Haroon Yusuf had posted a distant third, way behind the BJP's Shyam Lal Morwal.

New Delhi:

Congress's working president and three-time minister Haroon Yusuf is confident of wresting his pocket borough this time from Aam Aadmi Pary's Imran Hussain. Mr Yusuf had won from the Muslim-dominated constituency -- a Congress stronghold located in the Walled City -- five times between 1993 and 2013.

But in 2015, Ballimaran had dropped the local strongman and opted for Arvind Kejriwal's party, which posted a record win with 67 of Delhi's 70 seats.

In the election, Mr Yusuf had posted a distant third, way behind the BJP's Shyam Lal Morwal.

This time too, the contest for Ballimaran will be triangular. Imran Hussain - Food and Civil Supplies minister in Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet - is defending his turf and Lata Sodhi is trying to open the BJP's account in Old Delhi.

The constituency has registered the highest turnout, 71.6 per cent, which conventional electoral wisdom suggests, is a harbinger of change.

Mr Yusuf, 61, handled the transport and power departments in Sheila Dikshit's cabinet in 2003, when accidents involving the notorious Blueline buses were at their peak. Over the following years, the Bluelines were slowly phased out.

After the Congress returned victorious in 2008, Mr Yusuf was put in charge of the Industries and Food and Civil supplies portfolios.

In January 2019, Mr Yusuf took over as the working president of the Delhi Congress as his former boss Sheila Dikshit became the state unit chief, to prepare the party for the general elections.

In the elections held in April-May, the party delivered one of its worst performances -- in Delhi, all seven seats again went to the BJP.

In July, Sheila Dikshit died. This time, under Mr Yusuf's watch, the campaign of the party -- which also failed to win a single seat in 2015 after three consecutive terms in power -- has been lackluster.

There have been few star campaigners for Delhi - even Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have made few appearances. Most of these were in the Old Delhi area, which has a chunk of Muslim population. Besides Ballimaran, the two other constituencies in the area are Chandni Chowk, from where Alka Lamba is contesting and Matia Mahal, where Javaid Ali is the party's candidate.

Most exit polls have predicted that the Congress will draw a blank again in Delhi. Haroon Yusuf has dismissed the prediction, saying the party has been underestimated by the exit polls.

Mr Yusuf began his political career as an activist in the student wing of the Congress and moved onto the Youth Congress in the 1980s. In 1989, he was appointed as joint secretary of the Youth Congress.

The alumni of Zakir Husain College is married and has three sons.

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