BJP’s Delhi chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan, Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari, Dalit leader Udit Raj and party’s senior spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi were among the seven candidates announced by the BJP for as many Lok Sabha seats in Delhi late on Saturday night.
The list also includes sitting MLAs Ramesh Bidhuri and Pravesh Verma.
Vardhan will now be pitted against Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh from the Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency. The Congress is also likely to repeat sitting MP Kapil Sibal from this seat, making it one of the most coveted contests.
The BJP fielded Dalit leader Udit Raj from North East Delhi.
“It has come as a surprise for me but I am happy with the party’s decision and will win the seat. For me the opposition is not a threat at all,” Vardhan told HT.
Senior BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi, daughter of well-known criminal lawyer PN Lekhi, is the only woman candidate in the list. She will contest from the New Delhi parliamentary constituency. Star power also found its place in the list as Bhojpuri actor and singer Manoj Tiwari has been fielded from the North East Delhi seat -- which has a significant population of immigrants from Bihar and eastern UP.
Art of Living’s Maheish Girri has been given party’s ticket from the East Delhi parliamentary seat. Girri is pitted against AAP candidate Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
MLAs Pravesh Verma, the son of former Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma, has been fielded from West Delhi and Ramesh Bidhuri will contest from South Delhi parliamentary constituency.
The list was released after much speculation whether the party will field sitting MLAs since the Delhi Assembly continues to remain in suspended animation.
While Vardhan’s clean image got him a nomination, Verma is expected to woo the Jat and rural voters.
“This is the best tribute I could have given to my father. It’s his birthday today. I have already called a meeting with workers on Saturday,” Verma told HT.
Anxious candidates and their supporters had queued up at the BJP headquarters and senior leaders were also waiting with a list of the probable names which were to be discussed by the party election committee on Saturday morning.
In adjoining Noida, Dr Mahesh Sharma, who runs Kailash Hospital and is a sitting MLA, will be the BJP's face in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. In Gurgaon, Rao Inderjit Singh will contest against AAP's Yogendra Yadav.
In the last Lok Sabha polls in 2009, the saffron party had not won a single seat in the Capital.
Meenakshi Lekhi – New Delhi
Manoj Tiwari – North East Delhi
Udit Raj – North West Delhi
Harsh Vardhan – Chandni Chowk
Maheish Girri – East Delhi
Ramesh Bidhuri – South Delhi
Pravesh Verma — West Delhi