AAP to use 'local' Kejriwal, others to use central leaders

Former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will be the face of the AAP in the November 25 by-election in three Assembly constituencies but the BJP and the Congress seem more inclined to seek votes in the name of central party leaders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s performance will be the foundation of the BJP campaign, while the Congress will bank on the popularity of party president Sonia Gandhi, said local leaders from these parties.

The AAP and the Congress are unlikely to repeat their candidates who lost these seats to BJP nominees in December 2013. There also are indications from the AAP to rake up the Trilokpuri riots issue during the campaign for the by-poll.

AAP leader Manish Sisodia said Kejriwal will continue to be the face of the new party which headed a 49-day government earlier this year.

“Kejriwal’s good governance will be our focus,” said Sisodia.  His remark came on a day when the party alleged that there was a political design behind this communal tension in Trilokpuri and its adjoining areas.

“The AAP had sought a report from its MLAs – Raju Dhingan and Manoj Kumar – who  represent Trilokpuri and Kondli Assembly constituencies about the reasons behind the communal flare-up,” the party said in a statement, signalling its intent to raise the issue during the by-polls.

BJP MP and Delhi unit general secretary Ramesh Bidhuri said the party does not need a face to contest the by-polls.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his work will be enough for the party to win the elections,” he said, alleging a shortage of leaders in the AAP.

Congress chief spokesperson Mukesh Sharma claimed the party was ready for polls and charisma of party president Sonia Gandhi will work for the party in the next round of electoral test.

The announcement of the by-polls have raised the political temperature in the city, with indications that the AAP and the Congress may not repeat the three candidates who lost on the Krishna Nagar, Mehrauli and Tughlakabad Assembly seats last year.

The three seats fell vacant when BJP legislators Harsh Vardhan (Krishna Nagar), Ramesh Bidhuri (Tughlakabad)  and Pervesh Verma (Mehrauli) were elected to Lok Sabha.

Sources in the AAP and the Congress hinted that there were little chances of the losing candidates being fielded again from these three seats. The BJP also will not repeat its candidates as they have become MPs.

The AAP appears set to field Sahi Ram from Tughlakabad. The former Bahujan Samaj Party leader, who lost to Bidhuri (34,009 votes) by 5,946 votes, joined the AAP a couple of months back.

The AAP candidate Manoj Kumar Ray polled 12,465 votes, while Congress nominee Om Prakash got 9,781 votes. Both of them are unlikely to be repeated by their parties in the by-polls, said sources.

In Krishna Nagar, V K Monga of the Congress who polled 26,072 votes is said to be getting close to his old party – the BJP. Sources said if Monga returns to the saffron fold, he may get the BJP ticket from Harsh Vardhan’s stronghold. Harsh Vardhhan had won the seat after getting 69,222 votes. The AAP’s Ishrat Ali Ansari polled 17,498 votes.

Parvesh Verma of the BJP trounced his AAP challenger in Mehrauli, Narinder Singh Sejwal, by 4,564. While Verma got 37,481 votes, Sejwal got 32,917 votes and Congress candidate and former speaker Yoganand Shastri got 21,494. Shastri and Sejwal may not be refielded from the seat in the by-poll.  

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