Four sitting Congress MPs — former Union minister Ajay Maken, Union minister Kapil Sibal, former Delhi Congress chief Jai Prakash Agarwal and party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit - are set to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the seats they won in the 2009 general election.
Sources said the Congress’ central election committee (CEC) has given its stamp of its approval to their candidature from New Delhi, Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi and East Delhi. Their names are likely to be formally announced in a day or two. Maken and Agarwal had contested the Congress primaries for candidate selection and emerged the consensus choice of the party workers in their respective constituencies.
Sources said the CEC has deferred its decision for the remaining three seats - West Delhi, North West Delhi and South Delhi. While the screening committee had suggested that all seven sitting MPs are repeated, sources said there is lot of opposition to the names of the sitting MPs on these three seats. This has prompted the CEC not to announce a decision.
North West Delhi MP and Union minister Krishna Tirath faces stiff opposition from the current and former Congress MLAs and municipal councillors in her constituency. The party’s internal survey has shown a strong anti-incumbency against West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra and South Delhi MP Ramesh Kumar.
Both Mahabal Mishra and former MP Sajjan Kumar — elder brother of Ramesh Kumar — had got tickets for their sons in the December 2013 Assembly elections. While Mahabal’s son stood fourth, Sajjan’s son came third. But scales are tilted towards Krishna Tirath, especially in the view of the fact that primaries were not held for her seat after she expressed her opposition to the process.
While the Congress had won six of the seven seats in 2004 Lok Sabha elections and all seven seats in 2009, it faces a stiff challenge from traditional rival Bharatiya Janata Party and new entrant, Aam Aadmi Party, this time. Senior party leaders agree there is a strong anti-Congress wave in the country which can only be neutralised by replacing candidates on some seats.
According to sources, the central leadership had suggested replacing 15 sitting MLAs in 2013 assembly elections to diffuse anti-incumbency. "We lost election on 13 of those 15 seats. It seems the central leadership does not want to take any chances this time," said a senior party leader.
Former Delhi minister Rajkumar Chauhan and four-term MLA Jai Kishan are also in contention for party ticket from North West Delhi. NSUI leader Rohit Chaudhary and senior Delhi leader Chatar Singh have shown interest in contesting from South Delhi seat. Party may field Bollywood actor and Firozabad MP Raj Babbar from West Delhi.