Delhi Elections 2020: Key contests that may set tone for Feb 8 Delhi Assembly polls
Delhi Elections 2020: The BJP is struggling to make a comeback to the helm of the Delhi Assembly after 22 years. The Congress, which ruled the city for 15 consecutive years till 2013 but drew a blank in the 2015 polls, is also looking for a turnaround in its fortunes.Updated: Jan 19, 2020 02:03 IST
On February 8, Delhi will again witness a triangular battle between the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) when it votes to choose a new legislative assembly elections.
The BJP is struggling to make a comeback to the helm of the Delhi Assembly after 22 years. The Congress, which ruled the city for 15 consecutive years till 2013 but drew a blank in the 2015 polls, is also looking for a turnaround in its fortunes.
With all three parties having declared their list of candidates this week – and having fielded winning candidates and fresh faces along with old heavyweights – several assembly segments are likely to witness keen contests.
The fight gets tougher with several experienced politicians having changed their affiliations in the run up to the polls and having bagged tickets to fight against their old parties.
Chandni Chowk, Dwarka, Gandhi Nagar, Sangam Vihar, Kalkaji, Greater Kailash, Krishna Nagar and Mangolpuri, among others, are some such seats which are likely to witness tough contests.
According to Praveen Rai, political scientist with the Centre for Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, despite the AAP’s refusal to divert from the agenda of governance and welfare, there was a high possibility that the Congress will cause deep dents in the ruling party’s vote base in constituencies with significant Muslim population in the light of protests against the recently amended citizenship law. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has refused to throw his weight behind the ongoing protests, though he has condemned the violence and spoken against the newly-passed citizenship law.
Rai said, “There will be an impact for sure. But the intensity — or quantum of the impact in terms of number – is not yet clear,” said Rai. He added, “The idea of sticking with good governmance in the campaign is a smart move on part of the AAP but one must remember that there are factors which are capable of pushing such positive campaigns to the backseat. The Congress had adopted a similar strategy in 2013 but they could not ensure a majority for the first time in 15 years.”
Constituencies with large Muslim population in Delhi include Seelampur, Okhla, Matia Mahal, Ballimaran and Mustafabad.
In Chandni Chowk, Alka Lamba, who rebelled in the AAP and went back to the Congress, will be contesting against the AAP’s Prahlad Singh Sawhney, a five-time MLA and the party’s new recruit who joined from the Congress around a month ago. The BJP’s candidate from the seat is Suman Kumar Gupta, former councillor in the area who has twice unsuccessfully contested from the same seat before.
Sawhney, however, said there was no chance of a close contest. “I know my support base and I have done sufficient amount of work in the area over years to build it.”
Alka Lamba, on the other hand, agreed that there will be a tough fight ahead, but asserted that she is the strongest face in the fray.
In Dwarka, the AAP’s dropped MLA Adarsh Shastri will contest with a Congress ticket against the AAP’s Vinay Mishra, who joined the party last week. Mishra is the son of Congress heavyweight Mahabal Mishra. The BJP’s candidate from the seat is a relatively lesser-known face, Pradyumn Rajput.
In Kalkaji, the Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra’s daughter Shivani Chopra will be taking on AAP’s Atishi. While Atishi had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, for Chopra it will be her first election. The BJP is yet to field a candidate from Kalkaji.
In East Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar, the BJP’s Anil Bajpai, who had rebelled in the AAP last year and later got disqualified as an MLA, will be taking on Congress’ heavyweight Arvinder Singh Lovely. The AAP’s candidate in the seat is Naveen Chaudhary, is a new face in the party’s list.
In Seelampur, which witnessed vioent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act last month, the Congress’ stalwart candidate Mateen Ahmed will take on the AAP’s Abdul Rehman. In this Muslim-dominated constituency, the AAP dropped its sitting MLA Mohammad Ishraque. The BJP’s face from Seelampur is Kaushal Mishra, who identifies himself as a Purvanchali leader in the area.
A similar tight contest is likely to take place in Okhla too – where the AAP has fielded its old hand Amanatullah Khan, who was an active participant in the anti-CAA protests. He will be contesting against the BJP’s Brahm Singh, who had lodged a compaint against him accusing him of instigating riots during the protest. The Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the seat.