In the run up to Lok Sabha polls, prominent political parties seem to have put the by-election of the Rohtas Nagar assembly segment on the back burner, at least for the time being.
Neither the Congress, which won the seat in 2008, nor the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been able to decide on their possible candidates. The seat fell vacant following the death of former Delhi Congress chief Ram Babu Sharma in January this year. The election to this seat will take place simultaneously with Delhi’s Lok Sabha polls on May 7.
Senior Congress leaders said now, after candidates for Delhi Lok Sabha seats have been announced, the party will focus on the by-election.
The party, insiders said, is expected to choose between Vipin Sharma and Chaudhary Ajit Singh. While Sharma is Ram Babu’s son, Singh is municipal councillor from Dilshad Garden ward and considered close to chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
Not only the Congress, even the BJP has not yet finalised the name of its candidate. BJP insiders said the party would decide on the name by next week. During the 2008 Assembly poll, the party had fielded former deputy speaker Alok Kumar for this seat. Kumar lost the election by 13,243 votes.
“But Kumar, who lost three consecutive assembly elections, is not too keen to contest this time round,” said a BJP insider.
Party sources said the Delhi state unit on Thursday shortlisted five names and sent them to the party’s parliamentary board for its final decision.
Deputy mayor Divya Jaiswal, the party’s district president Harsh Malhotra and Anil Gupta — Kumar’s election manager in the last assembly elections — are front-runners.
Since the BJP had not fielded any of its sitting municipal councillors in the last assembly polls, sources said the party might not consider the name of Jaiswal too. This, said party sources, may give Gupta a chance, who is considered a neutral in the faction-ridden party.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), known for announcing candidates well ahead of polls, hasn’t announced its candidate yet. Sources said it would do so only after the Congress and the BJP made their candidates public. “We want to win this election. If the Congress gives the ticket to a Brahmin, we might field a Punjabi candidate.... Otherwise, we might field Lokesh Dikshit, our candidate in the last assembly poll,” a BSP leader said.
Former MLA Radhey Shyam Khanna, who had defeated the BJP’s Kumar in 1998, is vying for the BSP ticket from Rohtas Nagar this time.