Delhi Assembly Elections 2020| With token no. 45, Arvind Kejriwal waits six hours to file papers
Twenty-seven people had filed their nominations from the coveted seat Monday, taking the total number of contestants in New Delhi to 93.Updated: Jan 22, 2020 05:21 IST
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal filed his nomination for the February 8 Delhi Assembly elections from the New Delhi seat Tuesday after waiting six hours at the office of the returning officer, with 65 others also filing their papers from the constituency the same day.
Twenty-seven people had filed their nominations from the coveted seat Monday, taking the total number of contestants in New Delhi to 93. The final number of contestants on the seat would only be known after Friday, the last date for withdrawal of nominations.
On Tuesday, the Delhi CM, waiting with token number 45, had at least 10 former contractual employees of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), around five cab drivers, at least four social workers who participated in the India Against Corruption Movement in 2011, and a national-level hockey player, who played a cameo in the Bollywood movie ‘Chak De! India’, waiting ahead of him in the queue.
During the long wait outside the Returning Officer’s (RO) room in New Delhi’s Jamnagar House, Kejriwal took to social media to give updates about the process. Around 2.30pm, Kejriwal tweeted that his token number was 45 – suggesting that there were 44 candidates before him in the queue.
His tweet triggered a brief row on social media when his party colleagues Manish Sisodia and Saurabh Bharadwaj indicated that this could be a conspiracy.
Sisodia accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of sending bogus candidates to delay the nomination process. “Looks like the BJP has failed in its conspiracy,” said Sisodia.
“We have learnt that a group of around 50 candidates would come to the RO’s office every day, take tokens but refuse to file nomination papers. They deliberately waited for the day when the CM arrived in the RO’s office. What does that suggest if not a conspiracy?” said Bharadwaj, who is also the AAP’s national spokesperson.
Responding to Bharadwaj’s tweet, Kejriwal said, “It does not matter. Many of them are filing for the first time. We should handhold them. I am enjoying waiting with them. They are all part of my family.”
The district election officer also denied any ‘deliberate delay’. “There is a set of procedure to be followed by the RO while receiving nominations from aspiring candidates...nomination of one candidate can take 30 to 35 minutes depending upon the number of sets of nomination papers.”
The BJP issued a statement, rejecting tweets by Sisodia as a “bunch of lies”.
Kejriwal’s wait was interrupted with more dramatic turns. When his turn finally came around 6.15pm, the lights went off. It was a brief power cut, officials present outside the RO’s office said. Kejriwal came out of the building around 6.45 PM and left through another gate, choosing not to speak with media persons present outside Jamnagar House.
People who were in queue with CM
Kejriwal, AAP’s national convener, was supposed to file his nomination papers on Monday after a road show in the New Delhi constituency. He could not do so because the road show stretched beyond 3pm – when the window to take a coupon for filing papers at the RO’s office closes for the day.
Tuesday was the last date for filing the nominations and Kejriwal reached the RO’s office at 12.30pm, accompanied by his parents, a lawyer and a few AAP functionaries.
During the wait, Kejriwal had detailed discussions with the other candidates – especially the group of former DTC contractual employees who were sacked, said an AAP functionary who accompanied him.
“I was part of a group of DTC contractual employees that had staged a protest against Kejriwal in 2018, demanding equal pay for all contractual workers, for which we were sacked. This is our only chance to defeat Kejriwal in the political arena,” said Manoj Sharma, one of the candidates who filed his nomination papers before Kejriwal.
Shailendra Singh Shally, the national athlete, is now a member of the ‘Anjaan Aadmi Party’. He said, “We are contesting because we are capable of bringing Swaraj and engaging in revolutionary politics better than Arvind Kejriwal’s.”
Shally’s name had hit headlines in 2009 when he rescued passengers stuck in a public bus that caught fire on the middle of the road in Delhi’s Mandir Marg. His supporters carried news clippings of the incident and sported Gandhi caps – similar to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – but black instead of the white ones worn by AAP supporters.
Shortly after Kejriwal, Pawan Kumar, an independent candidate with token number 44, emerged out the RO office. Kumar, who is a cab driver in Delhi, said: “This government has hardly paid any attention to the problems faced by taxi drivers in the city. Autorickshaw fares were revised but there was no scheme or incentive introduced for taxi drivers. The time has come to have MLAs who are cab drivers.”
Independent candidate Pradeep Kumar, who identified himself as a participant of the India Against Corruption Movement, said: “I am a poor cancer patient and I have often shared stage with Kejriwal in public gatherings during the Anna Hazare movement days. But after the AAP came to power, they refused to help me with my treatment. I want to contest so that I get the chance to express myself in public gatherings.”
According to the poll affidavit filed by Kejriwal, the value of total assets owned by him and his family increased by 62% compared to the value declared in 2015. The chief minister and his family own assets worth Rs 3.40 crore against Rs 2.10 crore disclosed in 2015. Of the total increase, around Rs 85 lakh can be attributed to increase in the value of his residential property and his wife, a former revenue officer, who received Rs 35 lakh as voluntary retirement benefits, his affidavit showed.