Re-election seems inevitable in the city as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had emerged as the single largest party with 32 MLAs, has fielded three of its sitting MLAs for Lok Sabha elections on Saturday.
The three sitting MLAs include their chief ministerial candidate and Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan, who has been fielded from Chandni Chowk and is pitted against AAP candidate and former journalist Ashutosh and sitting MP Kapil Sibal whom the Congress is likely to field.
“By fielding these three candidates, the party has sent out a message that forming a government in Delhi is not our priority and we are concentrating on Lok Sabha elections completely,” said a senior BJP leader.
Two other sitting MLAs who will also fight the Lok Sabha elections are Sahib Singh Verma’s son Pravesh, who has been fielded from west Delhi, and Ramesh Bidhuri, who will contest from south parliamentary constituency.
According to senior BJP leaders, the issue of the candidates’ list was debated at length in the Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting and the top brass has decided to concentrate on the Lok Sabha elections, putting aside the issue of forming the government.
The list did come as a surprise for many as the issue of fielding sitting MLAs was a bone of contention. Sources in the BJP said the party wanted to put its best foot forward by fielding Vardhan against journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh and other AAP candidates. “The stakes are very high this time for victory will ensure that Modi ji becomes the PM. All decisions being taken are centered around that,” said a senior BJP leader.
But another section of the party pointed out that despite having 32 MLAs, the party was hoping to get support from expelled AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny and Independent candidate Rambir Shokeen.
“Even after getting their support, we would have needed two more MLAs to prove majority. If all our three sitting MLAs are able to win their seats, the strength of the assembly will come down to 67,” said a senior BJP leader.
Senior BJP leaders said that the national leadership felt that as Delhi elections have recently concluded, the three sitting MLAs will be able to connect with the voters quite easily. “Harsh Vardhan belongs to the traders’ community and this is going to work for him as the Chandni Chowk constituency has a large percentage of traders,” said another leader.