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Cong open to new contenders

delhi Updated: Feb 12, 2009 14:21 IST
Anuradha Mukherjee

With the Lok Sabha elections a few months away, the Congress leadership in Delhi is busy figuring out a list of probable candidates for the seven Parliamentary seats in the city. There may be a few surprises in store.

For instance, the Congress may field Neelam Katara, the mother of Nitish Katara who was killed by Vikas and Vishal Yadav, son and nephew of UP politician D.P. Yadav, from the New Delhi Parliamentary constituency. Katara waged a lone battle against the influential political family to bring her son’s killers to justice.

“She is quite keen to contest the Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket from the New Delhi constituency. And she may make a good candidate because of her public image and immense strength of character,” said a Congress insider requesting anonymity since he was not authorised to speak to the media.

New Delhi is Congress leader Ajay Maken’s home turf. Post delimitation, however, the parliamentary constituency has seen a change in demographics. Only two Assembly segments from the older New Delhi constituency — Kasturba Nagar and New Delhi — are a part of the present Parliamentary seat by the name. “Ideally, he should be contesting from West Delhi Parliamentary constituency since his Assembly seat Rajouri Garden is now part of it,” said a Congress source.

But those close to Maken asserted that he was interested only in the New Delhi constituency, and that this was an attempt by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s camp to push him out.

The chief minister and Delhi state Congress chief Jai Prakash Aggarwal have been asked to submit the list of candidate by February-end. “We are prepared. We had fully geared up our field workers for the assembly elections and the Lok Sabha polls would be no different,” said Aggarwal. He, however, said it was too early to comment on likely candidates.

Sources within the party said the first phase of the election campaign had already started with hoardings up around the city. “Focus in Delhi would be on development as well as Central policies that were able to soften the blow of the economic downturn and substantially contain inflation,” said a source.

Delimitation, however, may be the last straw for the likes of Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler — both their parliamentary constituencies — were dissolved. “The Congress leadership has not been in favour of Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler became apparent when they were completely sidelined during the assembly polls,” said a party leader.