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BJP wants to play safe this time

For Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), finding the right candidates for the Capital’s seven Lok Sabha seats will be a tall order, with its only Delhi MP, VK Malhotra, now serving as an MLA in the state assembly. Moushumi Das Gupta reports. Graphics: BJP probables

india Updated: Mar 03, 2009 01:48 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta

For Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), finding the right candidates for the Capital’s seven Lok Sabha seats will be a tall order, with its only Delhi MP, VK Malhotra, now serving as an MLA in the state assembly. Sources, however, said BJP’s Delhi unit is most likely to announce its list of candidates for the seven seats before March 15.

After its defeat in the assembly polls, the BJP think-tank has decided to field celebrities from some high-profile constituencies like New Delhi. “The idea is to cut the glamour quotient of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit,” said a senior BJP leader.

A section of BJP leaders are in favour of giving a ticket to Bollywood actress Hema Malini from the New Delhi seat although former Chandni Chowk MP Vijay Goel is keen to contest from the seat. Goel, in fact, has already started campaigning in the area, holding demonstrations and protest marches to highlight the problems of the area.

Another celebrity name doing the rounds is Anil Kapoor. “His name is being considered from the East Delhi seat against Sandeep Dikshit, Sheila Dikshit’s son. Nothing has been finalised yet,” said a party insider.

Four-time MLA from Krishna Nagar and former BJP state president Dr Harsh Vardhan is a frontrunner from the seat. “Though his name is on top in the priority list, he himself is not too keen to contest,” said a party source.

This time around, BJP has decided to give tickets to winning municipal councillors and legislators. With the bar on councillors removed, MCD standing committee chairman Vijender Gupta is a strong contender from Chandni Chowk while Delhi mayor Arti Mehra is also keen on a ticket from New Delhi.

Insiders said caste equations would also play a major role while distributing tickets. For instance, from West Delhi constituency – a Punjabi dominated seat – the name of four-time BJP MLA Jagdish Mukhi is doing the rounds. Another strong contender is Parvesh Verma, son of former Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma. For the Northeast constituency, the name of former cricketer Kirti Azad is doing the rounds.

Similarly, Ramesh Bidhuri, a Gujjar, is a strong contender for the south Delhi seat, which has a predominant Gujjar-Jat population. In the Northwest Delhi reserved seat, two names are doing the rounds – former MP Anita Arya and former Delhi mayor Meera Kawaria. The latter might have an edge as Arya contested the 2008 assembly polls and lost.