Finding candidate against Kejriwal proving difficult for BJP
By Rahul Vaishnavi
New Delhi, (IANS) Finding the right candidate to take on the AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi assembly polls expected next month appears to be a headache for the BJP’s state unit, with senior leaders refusing to let go their “safe seats” and the younger ones not showing much interest in the “tough” contest.
Party sources said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now also looking at other options, including induction of a prominent candidate from outside the party to contest, or persuading a young office-bearer who has worked extensively in the New Delhi constituency.
“Those who won last time are in no mood to let go of their seats and even other senior leaders who were denied a ticket last time are not too keen to contest against him (Kejriwal),” a party leader from the Delhi BJP told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The New Delhi seat was a Congress bastion and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit had won it thrice-in-a-row till she was drubbed by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Kejriwal by over 20,000 votes in the Dec 2013 assembly election.
Kejriwal went on to become the Delhi chief minister and, though he was in office for a mere 49 days, he has consolidated his position in the constituency. He is again the AAP candidate for the upcoming elections.
While the AAP has released its complete list of candidates for the 70-member Delhi assembly, the Congress has come out with its first list of 24 names – but is silent on the New Delhi seat. The Congress is also looking for a formidable candidate as Dikshit will not be contesting the polls.
The BJP’s first list is likely to be announced January 18, party sources said.
Some leaders of the BJP state unit are of the view that former IPS officer Kiran Bedi should contest against Kejriwal.
And there are some who think that former AAP legislator Vinod Kumar Binny or former party leader Shazia Ilmi should contest against Kejriwal on the BJP ticket.
“All of them have worked closely with Kejriwal, especially Binny and Ilmi, and they know his strengths and shortcomings,” another party leader said.
Bedi was once Kejriwal’s ally in the anti-corruption campaign led by Gandhian Anna Hazare that captured the imagination of the country and led to the birth of the AAP.
Binny, who was elected from the Laxmi Nagar assembly constituency as an AAP candidate in the December polls, later rebelled against the party and accused it of not fulfilling the poll promises on water and power.
The AAP expelled him in Jan 2014.
Ilmi quit the party in May 2014 citing “lack of inner party democracy”.
Sources said the BJP is also scouting for young leaders who have worked in the constituency.
Among the names doing the rounds is that of Sunil Yadav, who is general secretary of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) – the BJP’s youth wing.
Yadav has held the post of BJP district president in New Delhi.
The name of Nupur Sharma, another BJYM office-bearer, is also doing the rounds.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Delhi assembly by winning 31 seats but could not form a government as it failed to reach the halfway mark.
Delhi has been under President’s rule since February 2014 after the Kejriwal-led AAP government stepped down, citing lack of support for an anti-graft bill, among others.