Party leaders dismiss rumours about in-fighting over outside, local candidates

Discussions on choosing candidates for the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi did not feature in Thursday’s Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party amid rumours that in-fighting in the party ranks delayed the selection process. The list is now expected on Saturday, the day on which nominations begin for the April 10 polls, providing even lesser time for the BJP candidates to begin campaigning.

Party sources said the tussle was between naming outsiders over local candidates. In the past week, names of senior leaders like Meenakshi Lekhi, Subramanian Swamy, Nirmala Sitharaman, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Mahesh Giri and others have been doing the round, which left some among the Delhi party cadre disgruntled since they prefer local candidates, including sitting MLAs, over outsiders.

A senior Delhi BJP leader, who is also a ticket hopeful, said Mr. Sidhu has refused to contest from Delhi and the party is considering new entrant Udit Raj for one of the constituencies.

“The delay in announcing candidates will harm the party since we will have no time to campaign. Both the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have started campaigning actively in the city,” he noted.

While senior party leaders, including Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan, attributed the delay to “bigger States given priority”, the CEC did discuss candidates for 10 seats in Haryana, which will also go to polls on the same day as Delhi.

“It is not like Delhi has a special status that needs to be discussed today,” noted a senior leader at the party headquarters.

“The CEC’s priority was to select candidates for States going to polls between April 7 and April 12,” said Delhi BJP leader Ashish Sood, who is a ticket hopeful from West Delhi.

Insisting that the delay had nothing to do with in-fighting, Mr. Sood added: “Discussion or no discussion, the delay in the list was not deliberate. It is a procedural issue and will be taken up soon.”

South Delhi ticket aspirant Ramesh Bidhuri said since Delhi only has 7 seats it will not be too difficult a task to declare the candidates.

However, party sources said the delay could also be due to the differences that cropped up during meetings of the Delhi BJP with the State RSS unit. The latter did not prefer outsiders over local candidates.

Mahila Morcha to campaign for Modi

In another development, the party’s Mahila Morcha launched a “Jan-Jan Modi, Ghar-Ghar Modi” campaign aimed at securing votes in favour of prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The Mahila Morcha will hold meetings at the district level and make contact with voters for as many as 18 hours a day till the April 10 polls.

“Women constitute about 49 per cent voters in all the seven Lok Sabha constituencies of Delhi. If the BJP completes the contact programme before April 10, then the Modi wave will turn into a storm in Delhi,” said Mahila Morcha president Sudha Sharma.

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