The 2015 Delhi Assembly election will be unique in that a number of prominent political faces have switched sides and are contesting on tickets of rival parties.
Former union minister Krishna Tirath, former Delhi Assembly speaker MS Dhir, former AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny, student leader Alka Lamba and five-time MLA Shoaib Iqbal are some prominent names who changed their parties just ahead of elections.
While politicians changing parties just ahead of elections is pretty common, the number of turncoats in the fray this time around, however, is quite high. There are at least 20 such people contesting on the tickets of the BJP, the AAP and the Congress. There are several others such as Shazia Ilmi and Rambir Shokeen who had switched sides but didn’t get a ticket.
“Those who are denied tickets definitely protest and leave the party. But we are not concerned about it,” said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh, referring to Krishna Tirath. Tirath was union minister for women and child development between 2004 and 2013. She was also a three-time MLA and a minister in the Sheila Dikshit cabinet. Her candidature was announced within hours of her joining the BJP from Patel Nagar seat.
The BJP has fielded Vinod Kumar Binny, who had defeated Congress heavyweight Ashok Kumar Walia in the 2013 elections. Binny resigned from the AAP soon after. He recently joined the BJP and is contesting against key Keijriwal aide, Manish Sisodia.
Dhir was Speaker in the outgoing assembly. He changed loyalties when the AAP leadership told him he was not going to get the ticket this time.
Iqbal, on the other hand, is a known party hopper. He contested the last five Delhi assembly elections from three different political parties. Iqbal joined Congress with his son and nephew, both municipal councilors, in December last year.
Turncoats who got AAP tickets include former DUSU president Alka Lamba, contesting from Chandni Chowk, Sahi Ram Pehalwan, a former BSP councillor, is contesting from Tughlaqabad.
Political analysts feel that turncoats manage to win only when they have their personal vote bank. “They primarily bank on their personal chemistry with the voters. They only benefit, if they have a strong social footing and good personal rapport with the electorate in the constituency,” said Ravi Ranjan, fellow, Developing Countries Research Centre, DU.