Party leaders say the prime ministerial candidate’s choice would carry a lot of weight

With the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi due to address a rally at Rohini here on Sunday, many party leaders and workers are eagerly waiting to hear if he would drop a hint on who would be the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi.

While Delhi Assembly election in-charge Nitin Gadkari had earlier made it clear that the party would prefer going into the elections without announcing any candidate, many in the party believe this is proving to be counter productive. The main plank of the ruling Congress now is that it has the best face in Sheila Dikshit and the Aam Aadmi Party has been claiming that it has the most honest face in Arvind Kejriwal, while the BJP does not have a face to go into the polls with.

In fact, both the main warring factions in the BJP are opposed to the idea of not announcing a name for the post of chief minister. “It is a fact that in 1998, when the Congress came to power, it had not projected a chief ministerial candidate and Sheila Dikshit had emerged on the scene later on. But since then, both the parties have been clear on who their chief ministerial candidates would be and so why not now?’’ asked a party leader.

Another leader, who was previously associated with the residents’ welfare association movement, said by not naming Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel as the chief ministerial candidate, the party was actually sending out a message that Mr. Goel would be the first choice for the post of Chief Minister should the party gain a majority. “Several senior leaders in the party, including V.K. Malhotra, Arti Mehra, Jagdish Mukhi and Harsh Vardhan, have been opposing Mr. Goel’s candidature from the beginning. But instead of announcing a new name, the party decided to continue with the present dispensation and even made him in-charge of the Core Group and the Election Committee. So what is the message that is going out?”

The name of former Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan was suggested by some for the post. But as a party leader said: “The situation is such that the moment you announce a name, others would start pulling him or her down. The semblance of unity among all those opposed to Mr. Goel would fritter away.”

“It is precisely for this reason that the party is doing well by not getting into the chief ministerial candidate issue as of now. In the past couple of months, our campaigning has picked up and we have been doing well,’’ said another former Delhi BJP president adding that it was in the party’s best interest to postpone the decision for now. As such, the party leaders insist they would be watching the body language of Mr. Modi very closely to see who he would be warming up to the most. “After all, he is the prime ministerial candidate now and his choice of the chief ministerial would carry a lot of weight.’’

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