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Delhi Elections: BJP List Has No Stars, No Surprises & No Muslims

No big names in BJP’s list of 57 candidates in Delhi. It is yet to decide its candidate against Kejriwal.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
Delhi BJP Chief Manoj Tiwari with Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and BJP Vice-President Shyam Jaju during the release of BJP’s first list of 57 candidates for Delhi Assembly polls.
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Bharatiya Janata Party declared its candidates for 57 out of 70 seats in the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections on Friday, 17 January.

The only surprise was that there were no surprises. The list didn’t feature anyone who was being speculated as a possible chief ministerial candidate.

All three sitting MLAs have been renominated: Vijender Gupta from Rohini, OP Sharma from Vishwas Nagar and Jagdish Pradhan from Mustafabad.

The party is yet to announce the candidate for Rajouri Garden, that is held by Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa who fought on a BJP ticket and won in a bypoll.

Here are five key takeaways from the list:

No Big Leaders, No Star Candidates

Contrary to the hype, the BJP’s list contained neither any big leaders nor any star candidates. This is despite speculation that the BJP will field several top leaders in the elections, including those who had won in the Lok Sabha elections.

The party is yet to declare candidates in these seats: Nangloi Jat, Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Delhi Cantonment, New Delhi, Kasturba Nagar, Mehrauli, Sangam Vihar, Kalkaji, Krishna Nagar, Shahdara and Seemapuri.

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Among these two seats, ones to watch out for are New Delhi and Krishna Nagar. New Delhi is the seat where AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal defeated three-time Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in 2013. He won again in 2015.

It is likely that the BJP will field a prominent person as a candidate against Kejriwal. On Friday, there was speculation that either Congress or BJP will field Nirbhaya’s, the 2012 gangrape and murder case victim, mother against Kejriwal.

Krishna Nagar is important because it is considered a BJP bastion, represented several times by current Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

It used to be considered a safe seat for BJP until its CM candidate Kiran Bedi lost from there against AAP’s advocate SK Bagga in the 2015 Assembly elections.

It is likely that the BJP may field a prominent leader from the seat.

Imported Candidates

In a number of seats, BJP has fielded candidates who had defected to the party in the past few years. These include:

  • Timarpur: Surinder Pal Bittoo, former Congress MLA who had briefly joined AAP as well. He will be up against senior AAP leader Dilip Pandey.
  • Shakur Basti: SC Vats, two-term Congress MLA. He will take on Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain.
  • Model Town: BJP has fielded Kapil Mishra, who won from Karawal Nagar on an AAP ticket in 2015 and even became a minister. But he had a bitter falling out with the party and went on to join the BJP. In Mishra’s seat Karawal Nagar, BJP fielded senior leader Mohan Singh Bisht.
  • Gandhi Nagar: BJP has fielded former AAP MLA Anil Bajpai, who like Mishra, had fallen out with the party.

No Muslims

There was a time when BJP used to win even Muslim-dominated seats in Delhi – in 1983, the party’s Muslim candidates won from Qasabpura and Matia Mahal in Old Delhi. But this time, the BJP hasn’t fielded a single Muslim candidate in Delhi as yet. And since it has declared candidates in all the seats where Muslims form a near majority, it is likely that no Muslims may figure in the party’s subsequent lists as well.

Even in Matia Mahal where the BJP had fielded a Muslim candidate in 2015, the BJP hasn’t fielded someone from the community this time around. Its candidate for the seat is Ravindra Gupta.

Perhaps the BJP has accepted that Muslims will choose between AAP and Congress and very few votes will come its way.

Room for Akali Dal But Not JJP

The Shiromani Akali Dal and Jannayak Janata Party, BJP’s allies in Punjab and Haryana respectively, had been demanding a share of tickets in the Delhi Assembly polls.

The BJP appears to have left scope for accommodating the Akali Dal. As of now, it hasn’t declared candidates in four of the seats being demanded by the Akali Dali: Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Kalkaji and Shahdara.

SAD’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa had contested from Rajouri Garden on an Akali ticket in 2015 and lost but later won the seat in the bypoll on a BJP ticket.

The BJP could concede a few seats to the Akalis in the next list. Whether they contest on the SAD or the BJP symbol remains to be seen.

However, the BJP has declared candidates for all the seats JJP was eyeing, except one. This indicates that the BJP may not give any space to its ally in Haryana. The only Jat- dominated seats that the BJP is yet to declare a candidate in are Nangloi, Mehrauli and Delhi Cantonment.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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