Celebs or leaders: BJP's Delhi warriors' list likely this week

Congress may take time to announce its Lok Sabha candidates

The BJP’s list of seven Delhi Lok Sabha election candidates is likely to be announced on Monday or March 13, said sources in the party. The Congress, on the other hand, is likely to take more time as it is considering dropping a few of its seven sitting MPs.

While finalising the line up for the April 10 election, the real challenge before the BJP is to decide whether local leaders or celebrity faces should be banked upon to win the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi – all of which are currently occupied by the Congress, said a BJP leader.

According to BJP’s incharge of Delhi elections, Nitin Gadkari, the party does not want to make it an easy battle for the rivals on even a single Lok Sabha seat in Delhi.

There are at least three or four leaders being considered for each parliamentary constituency, said a Delhi BJP leader who once lost from the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat.

Among the local leaders, candidature of Krishna Nagar MLA Harsh Vardhan and almost a dozen other BJP legislators, half a dozen councillors, former legislators and MPs were considered, said a party leaders.

The popular celebrities being considered for BJP tickets include personalities who are visible on TV and include former cricketer and Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, actress Kiron Kher, former police officer Kiran Bedi and politician and PIL activist Subramanian Swamy.

Sources said Bedi has been found capable of winning many seats including New Delhi, Chandni Chowk and South Delhi.

Sidhu is the front runner in the West Delhi, Harsh Vardhan in East Delhi and Bhojpuri actor and singer Manoj Tewari in North East Delhi.

Swami, Kher and former Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were among those considered for New Delhi seat, a party leader said.

For Chandi Chowk, the BJP’s search for candidates with winning potential revolved around senior leader Sudhanshu Mittal, Vijender Gupta and legislator Nand Kishore Garg, sources said.

Former Indian Foreign Service officer Hardeep Singh Puri, lawyer and party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi and legislator Rambeer Singh Bhiduri were considered for South Delhi seat, he said.

Second draft

Meanwhile, the Congress is preparing a second draft of the list of candidates from Delhi after the first proposed list, which included all the seven sitting MPs, was rejected by the party seniors last week, said a Congress leader.

New Delhi MP Ajay Maken is almost sure of a renomination.  The strongest signal of this comes from his radio jingle campaign already on air for over a week now, said a party leader. North East Delhi MP J P Agarwal is another candidate whose re-nomination appears nearly certain.

He is the lone candidate left in the fray for the Congress party’s internal primary election for nomination of candidate from the seat.

The primary is scheduled for March 11 but voting is unlikely to take place as Agarwal has no competition, said a party leader.

The other five sitting MPs may not have a smooth sail for winning a renomination as an internal Congress survey has already show that their popularity has dipped sharply over the last five years, a party leader said.

These five Congress MPs are:  union minister Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk, central minister Krishna Tirath from North West, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit from East  Delhi, Ramesh Kumar from South Delhi and Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi.

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