AAP dares BJP to face Pathak in Rajinder Nagar bypoll

Durgesh Pathak is AAP’s MCD in-charge.

Durgesh Pathak is AAP’s MCD in-charge. | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

The Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday declared its MCD in-charge Durgesh Pathak as the party candidate for the upcoming Rajinder Nagar bypoll and challenged Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta to not run away from the contest against Mr. Pathak.

The Rajinder Nagar Assembly seat, which fell vacant after AAP legislator Raghav Chadha was sent to the Rajya Sabha, goes to the polls on June 23. According to the schedule released by the Election Commission of India, the notification of the by-election will be issued on May 30 and the counting of votes will be done on June 26. The last date to file nominations is June 6.

The Rajinder Nagar constituency has emerged as the latest battleground between AAP — whose national ambitions received a fillip after its political conquest of Punjab — and the BJP, which is yet to declare its candidate for the seat.

The BJP, which has been trying to make inroads into the Assembly constituency since it was vacated in March, had a significant meeting regarding the bypoll here on Saturday. It also held discussions with party workers at a “poll khol” programme, aimed at exposing the “inefficiencies of the AAP government in Delhi”, earlier in the day.

Official word awaited

AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh disclosed Mr. Pathak’s name during a press conference at the party headquarters. He said that an official announcement of his candidature will come from the party.  “Durgesh Pathak is ready for a democratic election in Rajinder Nagar. You [BJP] must come forward and face him,” Mr. Singh said. 

He said the BJP had grown so afraid of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s “progress and work-oriented politics”, that it first avoided the MCD elections and is now running away from bypoll to an Assembly constituency.

“Why are you scared of failure? I challenge Adesh Gupta to contest the by-election from Rajindar Nagar. Do more than spending all day shouting out false allegations,” Mr. Singh said. He alleged that Mr. Gupta and BJP leader Tajinder Bagga have run away from fighting the election in Rajinder Nagar.

Young face

Mr. Pathak is the youngest member of the AAP Political Affairs Committee, the highest decision-making body of the party. He has been with Mr. Kejriwal since the days of the India Against Corruption movement and has been a part of AAP since its formation.

He was one of the main figures who worked behind the scenes during the 2015 Delhi election and ensured a historic sweep for AAP. Mr. Pathak unsuccessfully contested the 2020 Assembly election in Delhi, though his party came back to power with a convincing majority.

Countering the AAP attack, Mr. Adesh Gupta sought to make water crisis and the quality of water being supplied in the Rajinder Nagar constituency an issue, while Delhi BJP general secretary Harsh Malhotra called Mr. Pathak “an imported candidate”.

“AAP couldn’t get a local person to contest? Making an outsider its candidate is like cheating the local people as he wouldn’t know problems of the area,” Mr. Malhotra said.

On AAP’s charge of the BJP being scared, Mr. Malhotra said his party never runs away from elections while AAP is a party that contested polls in five States earlier this year and lost deposits heavily on many seats in four of the States.

Cong. boost to AAP

In a boost to AAP ahead of the Rajinder Nagar by-election, five Congress leaders joined the party here on Saturday. Sandeep Tanwar, who had contested the Assembly poll in 2015 and 2020 from Delhi Cantonment seat on the Congress ticket, was inducted into AAP in the presence Mr. Singh and Mr. Pathak.

Welcoming Mr. Tanwar into the party, Mr. Singh said he is the national in-charge of print and electronic media of the AICC OBC Morcha. He has also been the General Secretary of Delhi Pradesh Youth Congress.

Former DPCC member Rajkumar Sharma, Youth Congress Committee office-bearers of Karolbagh district Suryansh Tanwar and Rajneesh Tanwar as well as Dinesh Nirman are the four other leaders to make the switch to AAP.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2022 8:24:28 am |