Just days ahead of the Okhla Assembly by-poll, 50 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers of the area joined the Congress party in favour of Farhad Suri’s candidature.
While the Dwarka assembly seat goes to polls today (Thursday), the Okhla by-poll is slated for September 15. The results of both elections will be announced on September 17.
Even as CM Sheila Dikshit convened a press meet to showcase her party’s achievement, state Congress chief Jai Prakash Aggarwal and Rajya Sabha MP Pervez Hashmi, the outgoing Okhla MLA from the seat, were conspicuous in their absence.
Party sources said Aggarwal’s exclusion from the campaign was deliberate.
Dikshit had attended a tree plantation programme in Northeast Delhi constituency where Aggarwal was the Lok Sabha MP, but no mention was made of him even there. In fact, he was absent from the Iftar party hosted by Dikshit on Wednesday evening too.
Aggarwal and Hashmi also kept away from the Okhla campaign. Party sources said this was because Suri, relying on Dikshit’s popularity with voters to see him through, failed to invite Aggarwal to campaign.
Dikshit, however, termed any speculations arising out of their absence as mere conjecture. Asked if some dissatisfaction was behind the leaders’ distance from the poll campaign, she said: “It’s all conjecture, just rumours.”
Suri, former Delhi Mayor, and veteran Congress leader Tajdar Babar’s son, was tipped to be a frontrunner for the party ticket because of his family’s proximity to Ahmed Patel, secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Aggarwal, however, had been campaigning in Dwarka for Congress candidate Tilotama Chaudhary. The BJP has fielded Praduman Rajput from this rural dominated seat.
“For some reason, Dikshit failed to campaign in Dwarka even once,” said another source.
Both seats fell empty after Dwarka MLA Mahabal Mishra was elected to the Lok Sabha and Okhla MLA Pervez Hashmi was elected to the Rajya Sabha.
BSP workers said they were joining Congress as they did not think BSP’s Okhla candidate Brahma Singh Bidhuri was somebody who could work for the constituency.
BJP has fielded Irfan Ahmed, a Muslim, while RJD has given a ticket to Mohammad Asif who lost the election in November last year by 400 votes. Former MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, who had fought on a Congress ticket and lost in the last Assembly polls, is also in the fray from Okhla as an NCP candidate.