Defeating three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit by over 3 lakh votes, Manoj Tiwari, the Delhi BJP chief, is expected to emerge as the frontrunner for the party’s chief ministerial candidate when the capital goes to Assembly polls next year.
In line with the performance of BJP candidates in the capital, Tiwari got 3.66 lakh votes — more than Dikshit and AAP’s Dilip Pandey combined. This is the second big victory Tiwari has been a central part of — the first being the BJP’s win in the MCD polls, when the party overcame massive anti-incumbency of two terms to leave Congress and AAP behind.
Several senior leaders The Indian Express spoke to said Tiwari, who was brought in as Delhi BJP chief in 2016 to consolidate the Purvanchal vote, could be given an even bigger role in the party — perhaps a ministerial berth or being projected as the BJP’s CM face next year. Asked about his chief ministerial ambition, Tiwari told The Indian Express: “I have just two ambitions. One, I wanted Modi ji to become PM and second, I want the BJP to win the Delhi Assembly elections. The first has been fulfilled, the second will be fulfilled soon.”
Another senior leader said, “(Arvind) Kejriwal’s acceptance as a mass leader was established after he defeated Dikshit (in 2013). Tiwari has now done the same, and could be projected as someone capable of taking on Kejriwal.”
“His weight in the party has increased because he will also be seen as someone who held road shows for several candidates across India, wherever Purvanchalis are in large numbers. He also staged a road show for (South Delhi candidate) Ramesh Bidhuri, who wasn’t particularly popular among the Purvanchali voters,” the leader said.
Before Tiwari’s appointment as Delhi BJP chief, the unit was dominated by Punjabis, Baniyas, Jats and Gurjars. But as the population of migrants increased over the past decades — they are estimated to comprise a third of the city’s over two crore population — the party felt the need to get a leader to tap that base.