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BJP needs a CM face in Delhi

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 12, 2013
First Published: 00:58 IST(12/9/2013) | Last Updated: 12:03 IST(18/9/2013)

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) decision to contest the Delhi assembly elections under a “collective leadership” and not announce a chief ministerial candidate ahead of the polls may not be the best political move, analysts say.

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While the ruling Congress has decided to go to the polls with three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit as its face, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is making its debut in electoral politics, too has projected Arvind Kejriwal as its chief ministerial candidate.

Pre-election surveys of different media organisations have shown that the electorate often rate a party by its leader and would rather vote for the Congress or the AAP than the BJP whose reluctance to project a face is a confirmation of internal squabbles over the leadership question.

“When other parties are fighting election with a face, the BJP should come out clean and show that they are a united house and should fight elections under a leader. Once they announce a name other leaders will have to reconcile,” said Anand Kumar, political analyst at Jawahar Lal Nehru University.

According to the ABP-Nielsen survey, 28% respondents are likely to switch their votes from the BJP to AAP if the former fails to project a credible leader.

With the Congress facing a strong anti-incumbency wave over myriad issues, the surveys have shown BJP as a strong alternative to the Congress. Senior party leaders, however, believe the party may lose the edge if it failed to project a leader who can replace Sheila Dikshit.

“VK Malhotra as CM candidate in the last elections failed to connect. He could not inspire the city, which has 70% population below the age of 40. A relatively younger leader would have probably won us the 2008 elections,” said a senior BJP leader.

While Malhotra is preparing the turf for his son, Vijender Gupta, Harsh Vardhan and Vijay Jolly lack mass appeal. In the given situation, Delhi BJP chief, 59-year-old Vijay Goel, is the party’s best bet.

About 26% respondents in the ABP-Nielsen survey see Goel as the most suitable CM candidate, putting Kejriwal with 24% votes at number two and Dikshit with 22% at number three. Only 6% find Malhotra as suitable and 5% say Harsh Vardhan could be a good choice.

Another survey by news channel Total TV has put Goel on top with 30% respondents backing him.

“We have done a lot of work and the party has good support from all sections of the society. We organised a Muslim convention, organised a grand meeting of Dalits and raised issues of the farmers,” Goel said.

Goel is a familiar face whose elevation as the party chief infused life in the organisation. He had led a series of protests to   identify with the problems agitating the electorate.

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