Sounding off the conch from the Talkatora Stadium on Tuesday, the Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party launched its election campaign in the presence of senior party functionaries including national president Rajnath Singh, senior leader M. Venkaiah Naidu and Deputy Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Even though BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was not present on the occasion, almost all party leaders who addressed the gathering, that mainly comprised party workers, spoke fondly of Mr. Modi’s “development model” and wished him on his 63 birthday.

Mr. Singh, who formally launched the Delhi BJP’s election campaign, made it clear to party workers that he wanted the “unity of the party intact” for the upcoming Assembly elections. Referring to the infighting in the Delhi unit of the party, he asked that small issues be set aside and the party work hard in order to unseat the Congress Government. “The party will surely end the 14-year ‘vanvas’ (exile) in Delhi and come to power,” he said, referring to the three consecutive terms won by the Congress Government.

The national president highlighted the importance of Delhi Assembly polls and said that victory in these polls was crucial for the party. “Delhi is the heart of the country. So we need to conquer the heart in order to register a win at the national stage,” he said.

Delhi poll in-charge and former national president Nitin Gadkari called for support from party workers to “shake up” the “sleeping Congress Government” and made it clear to those eyeing party tickets that only those who will be able to win elections will be preferred.

“Only those who will be able to win elections will get a ticket. One chair can only accommodate one person. There are 70 seats in Delhi and 1,200 contenders. It is obvious not everybody can be accommodated. Do not be angry if you do not get a ticket,” he said. Mr. Gadkari also sent out a strong signal against infighting among the party ranks and said: “All of you should unite so the BJP can come back with a two-thirds majority.”

Noting that the decision of former NCP leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri to join the BJP was detrimental to the Congress party, Delhi party chief Vijay Goel welcomed him to the party.

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