It will be Arvind Kejriwal vs Kiran Bedi in Delhi.
The announcement was made late Monday night at a press conference addressed by party president Amit Shah. A decision to this effect was taken at BJP's parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi. A separate meeting of the BJP's central election committee also finalised name of candidate of all 70 constituencies.
But Bedi will not be in direct contest with the AAP chief with BJP deciding to field former DUSU president Nupur Sharma from the New Delhi seat. HT was the first to report that Sharma may take on Kejriwal. “I will contest elections against him and will surely give a tough fight to Kejriwal and will win the elections,” said Sharma.
Four days after she joined the BJP, former police officer Bedi was Monday named the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, in a break from the party’s practice of not naming the candidate for top posts in states.
Bedi will contest from the Krishna Nagar seat in east Delhi, considered a BJP stronghold. Delhi goes to the polls on February 7.
The list announced by the BJP features almost all the party-hoppers who joined the saffron party. Hours after joining the BJP, former MP and Congress minister Krishna Tirath was given the Patel Nagar seat, while expelled AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny will take on AAP’s Manish Sisodia in Patparganj. Speaker MS Dhir, who had quit AAP, will fight to retain Jungpura seat. Former AAP MLA Ashok Chauhan from Ambedkar Nagar and former Congress leaders SC Vats and Arvinder Singh have also been fielded.
Sources in the BJP said the party’s strategy was to field candidates who had joined the party recently as they will be able to get party votes as well as their individual votes.
For the first time six women have been fielded by the party – in 2013 five women were fielded. Kiran Vaidya, wife of former BJP MLA from riot-hit Trilokpuri Sunil Vaidya, who died recently has been fielded from the constituency.
Knowing they will play a decisive role in the coming assembly elections, the BJP has fielded 13 SC candidates —12 of the 70 seats in Delhi are reserved for SC candidates.
Dismissing reports of dissent over her name, BJP president Amit Shah said Bedi was an unanimous choice and there was no rift in the party. “We hope that the name we have declared will be accepted by the people of Delhi and under her leadership we will win the elections in Delhi,” said Shah.
Senior BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi, who was also eyeing the CM post, will take on his son-in-law from Janakpuri who is contesting from a Congress ticket. MP Ramesh Bidhuri’s nephew Vikram Bidhuri will fight on the BJP ticket from Tughlakabad seat.
The party has declared 62 names for the 70-seat assembly. It has not declared candidates for the Mehrauli and Malviya Nagar seat from where Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay and former Mayor Sarita Chaudhary were hoping to be fielded. So far the party has fielded all 26 sitting MLAs as three of them had become MPs and the rest two seats have not been announced yet. A number of Delhi BJP functionaries have been fielded including Rekha Gupta from Shalimar Bagh and former Mayor Rajni Abbi from Timarpur.
Health minister JP Nadda said the list covers all sections of society and has taken special care of the Dalit community – a 25 lakh-strong vote bank that had helped the AAP in its spectacular win as they won 28 seats in 2013.(Inputs from Kumar Uttam)