The rift within the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came out in the open late on Thursday evening when several party leaders — sidelined in the past couple of months — joined hands at a party thrown by former mayor of Delhi Arti Mehra.
The get-together came at a time when the Assembly elections in Delhi are less than six months away and the BJP is looking forward to upset the winning streak of the Sheila Dikhit-led Congress party.
While several prominent local BJP leaders - who were not invited by Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel to a luncheon thrown by him a few days ago — were spotted at the Essex Farms, their party president, who is being touted as party’s chief minister candidate, was not present at the event.
“The dinner was thrown by Arti Mehra to celebrate her appointment as national secretary. I do not see any dissidence in thar,” Goel said.
Those who attended the dinner included leaders who had allegedly been sidelined by the new state leadership and were left out when Goel declared his new team of party officials to lead BJP during the Assembly elections due in November.
Leader of the opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijay Kumar Malhotra, MLAs Harsharan Singh Balli, Subhash Sachdeva, SCL Gupta, Shyam Lal Garg, former Delhi chief Vijender Gupta, former MLA Vijay Jolly were some of the Delhi BJP leaders at the party.
Senior party leaders, however, termed the get-together as a pressure tactic. “If some leaders felt that they were being ignored, they can go to the national leadership with their grievances,” a BJP leader said.
The murmurs of dissidence had started since Goel was appointed as Delhi party president. Several party leaders later started talking about his style of working. “You cannot lead the party to elections alone. You have to take everybody along. It seems two different parties are contesting against the Congress,” said a party leader.