After two rounds of marathon meetings, which saw a few disgruntled senior party leaders walking out after their choice of candidates were not accommodated, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Central Parliamentary Board formally announced the first list of 57 candidates for the Delhi assembly elections. These included the four seats that the party has given to its alliance partners, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).
As reported by Hindustan Times on Saturday, BJP has decided to field its chief ministerial candidate VK Malhotra from Greater Kailash assembly seat against Congress’s Jitender Kocchar while Saket MLA Vijay Jolly will take on CM Sheila Dikshit on the New Delhi seat.
Former Member of Parliament Anita Arya will contest from Patel Nagar against Congress’s Rajesh Lilothia. The only other female candidate who finds mention in the first list is Kalpana Jain from Gandhi Nagar.
BJP will also be repeating all its 19 sitting MLAs. Prominent among these are Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly, Jagdish Mukhi, Hari Nagar MLA H.S. Balli and Wazirpur MLA Mange Ram Garg, among others.
Four seats – Adarsh Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Jangpura and Shahdara – have been given to BJP’s alliance partner SAD(B).
Speaking to the media after the meeting, BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley said that the party would announce candidates to the remaining 13 seats shortly. “We are assessing the winnability of candidates in these seats. We want to include a few more female candidates in the list. We will keep all these factors in mind during our consultation before announcing the
second list,” said Jaitley.
The first list has generated some dissent with some unknown faces being given tickets over established names. “Similarly, there is no representation from the minority community in the list,” said a party worker.
Party sources said that decision on 13 seats was held back after senior BJP leader Vijay Goel protested against the names that were short-listed for these seats by the State Screening Committee. “Senior party leader and CM candidate VK Malhotra and BJP state president Harsh Vardhan had an upper hand in selecting majority of the candidates. None of Goel’s recommendation was accepted,” said a source.
For instance, Goel wants Praveen Jain to contest from Chandni Chowk but the committee prefers trader’s association leader Praveen Khandelwal. A final decision is awaited,” said a party leader.
Failing to get his men included, Goel along with senior party leader OP Kohli walked out of the screening committee’s meeting at BJP State office in the afternoon.
Besides Chandni Chowk, the remaining 13 seats where a decision is yet to be taken include Matia Mahal, Matiala, Sadar Bazar, Vikaspuri, Mustafabad, Trilokpuri, Najafgarh, Laxmi Nagar, Burari, Nangloi Jat, Patparganj and Seelampur.
Former Delhi CM and veteran BJP leader, Madan Lal Khurana was dropped from the list with Subhash Sachdeva being given ticket from the Moti Nagar seat.