The Delhi unit of the BJP is set to have a new chief with the current state-unit president Vijay Goel expected to be elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan in the February 7 biennial polls. The new state head will work alongside senior leader Harsh Vardhan to garner votes for the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Senior party sources said that the two front-runners for the job are Alok Kumar, lawyer and deputy speaker during the Madan Lal Khurana regime, and Ashish Sood, current vice-president of the state unit and Janakpuri municipal councillor. Pawan Sharma, MLA from Uttam Nagar, is also under consideration for the job.
Kumar, a former MLA from Rohtas Nagar, is said to be backed by the RSS owing to his experience. Sood is supported by the state unit and a section of the central leadership as he has age and dynamism on his side, being a former president of the Delhi University Student’s Union.
Senior party leadership wanted to change Goel immediately after the Delhi assembly elections. The former minister of state in the NDA government, however, had the backing of the powerful Ram Lal, general secretary in the central leadership. Lal, the link between the BJP and the RSS in the party high command, wanted Goel to continue to maintain continuity months before the general elections.
Ram Lal’s view was contested by senior leaders on the BJP parliamentary board who wanted the Delhi unit to be strengthened under Harsh Vardhan’s overall leadership to take on the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.
Though there is a view within the party that a change in office-bearers with the new president could generate dissatisfaction within the party, the top leadership feels that Goel has to be changed since he will represent Rajasthan in the Rajya Sabha.