The Bharatiya Janata Party declared its list of Lok Sabha candidates on Thursday to much cheer in Congress quarters.
“Neither their strategy nor their candidates are strong. This list puts us one up,” said Delhi Congress chief Jai Prakash Aggarwal.
New Delhi seat
Compared to BJP’s Vijay Goel, Congress frontrunner Ajay Maken has the advantage of being largely on home turf. Over 33 per cent voters are from his old constituency, while another 34 per cent are from the Old South Delhi constituency. Goel might be banking on the mixture of Vaish (8.45 per cent) and Punjabi (16.58 per cent) votes, but this factor is countered by the fact that Maken is a Punjabi himself. “If Goel were a strong candidate, he would not run from Chandni Chowk,” said Aggarwal.
Chandni Chowk seat
Here, Congress could field Kapil Sibal or Jagdish Tytler. Chandni Chowk is hardly the Vaish-dominated seat it used to be. It might still have nearly 17 per cent Vaish voters, but now it also has 16.23 per cent scheduled caste and 18.23 per cent ‘other backward caste’ voters voters, apart from 13.38 per cent Muslims and 13.57 per cent Punjabi voters. “It is not such an easy seat for BJP any more given the number of Muslim and OBC voters,” said a Congress leader.
South Delhi seat
There’s a keen contest within Congress for this seat. The prominent contenders are Sajjan Kumar, Yoganand Shastri, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, Chattar Singh and Balram Tanwar.
The seat has two strong Jat contenders in Sajjan Kumar and Delhi speaker Yoganand Shastri. “BJP has fielded a Gujjar, and unless Congress does the same, it will create a backlash in the East and Northeast seats too,” said a Congress leader.
West Delhi seat
From Congress, RK Anand, KTS Tulsi, Mukesh Sharma and Mahabal Mishra are all eyeing this seat.
BJP has fielded Delhi veteran Jagdish Mukhi, a Punjabi, from this seat. While Sikhs (9.23 per cent) and Punjabis (13.30 per cent) together comprise a sizeable chunk of the electorate, Brahmins (9.46 per cent), Jats (8.57 per cent), OBC (20.58 per cent) and SCs (12.62 per cent) form a formidable opposition.
East Delhi seat
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit is the unchallenged contender from this seat.
Northeast Delhi seat
Congress has to choose between Jagdish Tytler, Mateen Ahmed and Narendra Nath on this seat. With 21.39 per cent Muslim voters and 16.71 per cent SC voters, Tytler can expect smooth sailing. But Ahmed could play spoilsport.
Either Krishna Tirath or Ashok Tanwar could represent Congress here. Tirath, who is the sitting MP from Karol Bagh, the reserved seat before delimitation, can upset BJP’s Meera Kanwaria.