A student leader and an ex-minister: Meet Kejriwal's challengers

  • Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 21, 2015 12:27 IST

The line-up to the battle royale for the prestigious New Delhi seat is ready.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had declared Arvind Kejriwal as its candidate from the New Delhi constituency back in December. With both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announcing their nominees, it has finally become clear what the competition looks like this year.

Taking on Kejriwal are two women candidates -- former Delhi minister Kiran Walia from the Congress and student leader Nupur Sharma of the BJP.

Kejriwal had defeated three-term Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit by 25,000 votes in 2013.

Nupur Sharma, who studied economics at Hindu College, law at DU’s Faculty of Law and at London School of Economics, has emerged as an interesting face.

Insisting that she will give stiff competition to Kejriwal, Sharma said that she knew the area inside-out.

“I know the area well as I have been living here for a very long time. I am a local. I am not going to run away like Kejriwal. He did not do any work in the area. All he did was protest. I am educated, young and started politics at the age of 23. I am not scared of anyone and will contest to win,” said Sharma, who won the president’s post in Delhi University students’ union polls in 2008.

Kejriwal’s resignation may have angered a large section that had voted for him but he still enjoys a strong support in the area. “In my locality, everyone will vote for Kejriwal. We agree with his ideas and his way of working. He made a mistake by resigning but he has learnt his lesson. Also, no one has heard of either Walia or Sharma in this area. Votes will go to Kejriwal,” said Ram Niwas, who lives in a slum cluster near RK Ashram Marg.

The BJP’s decision to project Kiran Bedi as the CM candidate also seems to have eaten into AAP’s popularity. “Till now there was no clean face in the BJP. Now that Kiran Bedi is there, it seems like a good idea to vote for BJP. It will give a more stable government. I have not heard of Nupur Sharma but I think BJP will be a better option,” said Rahul, an auto driver who lives near the Safdarjung flyover.

In the midst of the two, Kiran Walia seems to have only a few supporters. “She has previously done commendable work in Malviya Nagar. She was a teacher and is affable and has a clean image. I will vote for her. I have never heard of Nupur Sharma and Kejriwal doesn’t seem to be able to provide a stable government,” said Radhika Dey, a resident of Gole Market.

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