A tussle over seats may have been the reason for the inordinate delay in the BJP declaring its candidates for the April 23 MCD polls, highly placed sources told The Indian Express. For two nights, party leaders sat till early morning, debating over who was most eligible for each seat. On Sunday night, the Delhi BJP team, including co-in charge Tarun Chugh, organisational secretary Siddharthan, Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari and several parliamentarians sat through the night, selecting candidates.
Sources claimed that at one point, MP Pravesh Verma had an altercation with Tiwari. “Verma, like others, wanted his own candidates. Most of his picks were approved, but at one point, Verma asked Tiwari about his credentials as a party worker and his knowledge of candidates. However, the matter was later resolved,” a source said.
Sources also said the party waited till the last moment because it anticipated protests over candidate selection, and did not want to give protesters too much time to react. While the final list came out as late as Monday afternoon, senior leaders said candidates were called and informed soon after they were picked so they could collect their symbol and file the nomination.
Senior leaders said that in around 20 per cent of the seats, candidates were picked without keeping caste and demographic considerations in mind. This percentage, some leaders said, could have been reduced. The Delhi BJP hopes the PM’s popularity will help them counter the incumbency factor. “We are fighting on a mission and vision of Modi. Swachh Bharat and zero tolerance for corruption is our motto. The reason we brought in a new team is because they will work with a new mindset and change the system,” Tiwari said.
Cong MLA joins BJP
Congress MLA Ambrish Gautam Monday joined the BJP. Gautam said his faith in the party leadership had faded of late. “MLAs were neglected, people were neglected, state leadership became arrogant and no one heard us. I wanted a ticket for my son; they conducted a survey and my son’s name featured in that as well. But they kept us hanging. The arrogance is unacceptable.” Asked if he was offered a ticket for his son by the BJP, Gautam said, “They agreed but it was too late. Even then I am not concerned. At least they listened to us.”
The Congress said that Gautam was “seeking a ticket for his son or brother, but the workers’ choice was a local Congressman, D P Maurya”.