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Not Atishi, Gautam Gambhir dares Arvind Kejriwal to debate. But he has a condition

Gautam Gambhir is pitted against the Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely and AAP’s Atishi. Lovely is the only one of the three to have a great deal of experience as a legislator; he is a former Delhi minister and is four-time legislator.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 08, 2019 12:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Gautam Gambhir,BJP,Congress
Gautam Gambhir, the former cricketer who dived into politics last month and is fighting his first election from east Delhi, has been a dartboard for his rivals. (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

Gautam Gambhir, the former cricketer who dived into politics last month and is fighting his first election from east Delhi, has been a dartboard for his rivals. On Tuesday, the BJP candidate complained at an election meeting that he had faced more allegations in his first 15 hours in politics than 15 years of playing cricket.

“Sometimes, they (AAP) talk of cancelling my nomination, sometimes that I have 2 voter IDs, sometimes an FIR and now, Kejriwal says that I will be abroad 240 days in a year,” the 37-year-old said, a response to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s appeal to people to elect a representative who had worked for them rather than an ex-cricketer who may have international assignments.

Gautam Gambhir is pitted against the Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely and AAP’s Atishi. Lovely is the only one of the three to have a great deal of experience as a legislator; he is a former Delhi minister and is four-time legislator.

Like Gautam Gambhir, this is Atishi’s first election but she has been adviser to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and has worked to raise education standards in the city’s government schools.

Atishi, an Oxford University graduate who has been bowling bouncers to Gambhir as soon as he filed his nomination papers, had also challenged him to a public debate on their vision for the constituency. Gautam Gambhir had ducked, provoking many jibes from his rivals for running away from the dare.

Gambhir responded to the criticism at Tuesday’s meeting. It is said that I am afraid to debate, the former cricketer said. “My response… is that I am someone who wasn’t scared of Pakistan, there is no reason to be afraid of a debate,” he said.

He told the crowd in east Delhi that he had dared Arvind Kejriwal to accept his challenge for a debate.

But he had one condition.

“I have challenged Kejriwal from the dais… Give me half the time (that you have spent in politics) and then, you decide the place and time,” Gautam Gambhir said effectively pushing the proposed debate to a little over 2 years later.

He had moments earlier underlined that the chief minister had four-and-a-half years in politics compared to his experience of just a few days.

“I haven’t got a response from Kejriwal,” he said, describing the chief minister as someone who was only good at “debate, dharna and drama”. The BJP leader also dissed Kejriwal for his demand for statehood for Delhi, insisting that this had become his favourite excuse to explain his failure to deliver on his promises.

Unlike the AAP, Gambhir said, the BJP did not make false promises.

First Published: May 07, 2019 23:21 IST

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