Seeking to put up a united face ahead of the Delhi assembly elections and to end the infighting in the party, the Delhi BJP will go to the polls without a chief ministerial face. The party high command has, instead, decided to form two separate committees to handle the election preparations in the Capital.
Former national president and Delhi's election in-charge Nitin Gadkari announced on Sunday the formation of an election core group and an election committee. Vijay Goel, president of the BJP's Delhi unit, will head both the panels.
The factionalism in the BJP, ironically, was triggered by Goel's alleged autocratic ways. Several veterans of the party were apparently not happy with his style of functioning.
"With the setting up of an election committee and a core group, the Delhi BJP has now been set in the election mode," said Gadkari. He said the party campaign would be a "collective effort" under the leadership of Goel.
Goel has been under intense pressure with two of his close aides - Sudhanshu Mittal and Amir Raza Husain - resigning and the leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, allegedly threatening to quit his post.
The high command intervened after it felt that the infighting would irreparably hurt the party's chances in the polls.
Sources also pointed out that the decision would scotch rumours about former Delhi BJP chief Dr Harshvardhan's anointment as either the chief ministerial candidate or the face of the campaign in Delhi.
The election committee includes Malhotra, Harshvardhan, Vijender Gupta, Ramesh Bidhuri, Shikha Rai, Sudha Sharma, Jai Prakash and Jagdish Mukhi, among others.
"Inclusion of leaders from the warring factions in the committees is a clear indication that the party wants to put up a united front amid allegations that senior leaders were not being consulted under the leadership of Vijay Goel," said a source.
Senior BJP leaders Arti Mehra and Vijay Jolly have been kept out of the committee. "Arti Mehra will be a special invitee and be called for meetings only if the president asks her to. Mehra had been most critical of Goel's functioning. Jolly is not included even as a special invitee," said a senior leader.
The election core group will have 54 members. Both the panels have Goel loyalists. If the election committee has Jai Prakash, Shikha Rai, Sudha Sharma, the core group's Ashok Goel, Poonam Azad and Gaurav Khari are all considered close to Goel.