Leadership is a prickly issue in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially around Delhi Assembly elections.
If sources in the party are to be believed, the BJP may have decided to go faceless in the elections, but the central leadership wants to take a call on the chief ministerial candidate before the polls take place.
Senior BJP leaders said that the party will be toeing the Maharashtra-Haryana line of announcing a CM candidate but they do want to shortlist a few names.
One of the frontrunners on that short list is Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for science and technology. It is said that a section of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is rooting for him to counter Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal.
“Harsh Vardhan’s clean image is surely an advantage but after he was removed from health ministry, there is no clear consensus over his name. There are other names which are also being considered. Also, fielding a woman candidate will attract women voters,” said a senior BJP leader.
That’s why perhaps, Union HRD minister Smriti Irani is also in contention for the post. The fact that Delhi has had no qualms in accepting a woman as a chief minister for 15 years may also work to her advantage.
Other names being discussed include Rajya Sabha MPs Vijay Goel and Prabhat Jha, the organisation in charge of Delhi BJP.
Sources in the BJP further said that the issue of lack of leadership has become a huge headache for the party and a meeting is likely to take place in the coming few days.
Lack of consensus on a chief ministerial candidate is the reason why the party is relying heavily on Modi magic in the forthcoming elections, they added.
“While we have a number of senior leaders who can be considered for the post there is no consensus over a single name, which is quite ironical. The party is actually facing a problem of plenty. The central leadership is of the view that this issue should be settled as soon as possible. Initial discussions have already begun and a final decision on the matter will be taken soon,” said a senior BJP leader.