The Congress is likely to filed former health and education minister Kiran Walia from New Delhi, the seat held by former chief minister Sheila Dikshit before she was defeated by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in 2013.
Senior Congress leaders said Walia’s candidature is likely to be announced on Thursday, when the party will release the list of the remaining 21 candidates. Breaking away from tradition, the Congress this time round released the first list of candidates a week before the elections.
Walia, 70, had contested the 2013 assembly election from Malviya Nagar where she was defeated by AAP candidate Somnath Bharti. Walia had won the 1998, 2003 and 2008 election from the same seat.
Senior party functionaries said Walia’s candidature from New Delhi is a very well-thought after decision. “The seat was represented by chief minister Sheila Dikshit for 15 years. We were looking for a prominent woman face who could easily replace Dikshit and Walia just fits the bill. She will pose a tough challenge to Kejriwal,” a senior party leader said.
The New Delhi constituency is an interesting mix of government housing, posh colonies, slum clusters and urban villages. A former Delhi University professor, Walia carries a persona which is likeable to a cross-section of people who lives in the constituency.
Sources confirmed that the party wanted Dikshit to contest again from New Delhi but had to look for other options when the three-time chief minister decided to stay away from electoral politics. Senior party leaders, however, said Dikshit would actively campaign for Walia in New Delhi.
“It was important to have somebody contesting from this seat who has the support of Sheila Dikshit. Walia has always been very close to Mrs Dikshit and enjoys her faith and confidence,” a senior leader said.