The last date for filing of the nomination papers is Tuesday.
NEW DELHI: After months of will-they-won’t-they suspense, the Congress has given up on the prospects of an alliance with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and has finalized the names of six of the seven candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi. With the announcement of the Congress candidates, the lid has been put on talks of a possible alliance between Congress and AAP. The last date for filing of the nomination papers is Tuesday. All eyes will be now on the Northeast Lok Sabha seat where the Congress has pitted its state unit chief and three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit against Delhi BJP unit head and MP Manoj Tiwari. The AAP has fielded Dilip Pandey from this seat.
Manish Sisodia, while accompanying his party colleague Atishi Marlena, who is contesting from East Delhi, said, “From the very beginning, we have been saying that we do not need any alliance in Delhi. If we had forged an alliance with Congress on three seats, they would have lost all the three seats.” Ms Marlena will be fighting a triangular battle with cricketer-turned BJP politician Gautam Gambir and Arvinder Singh Lovely, who was the Congress state unit head and was also Ms Dikshit’s cabinet colleague.
Ms Marlena is said to have played a key role in bringing drastic reforms in the education sector. It may be noted that Mr Lovely had briefly joined the BJP, but returned to the Congress fold in 2018.
Even former Union minister had warned that if an alliance between AAP and Congress was not forged, the BJP was going to win all the seven seats in Delhi.
Ms Dikshit, who took over from Mr Maken as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief earlier this year was a MP from 1984-89 from Kannauj. She was the chief minister of Delhi for three terms between 1998 and 2013. Asked about her prospects of winning the seat, Ms Dikshit said, “I am not new to this seat. I have one-on-one contact with the local people. I had contested from here when it was part of the East Delhi seat. And let me remind people that the Delhi Metro was also launched from Northeast constituency.”
While the Congress has fielded former Union minister Ajay Maken from the prestigious New Delhi seat, the BJP has pitted senior lawyer and sitting MP Meenakshi Lekhi against him. The AAP has fielded Brajesh Goyal from this seat.
The Chandni Chowk seat is also going to witness a keen contest between Union minister Harshvardhan and Congress candidate and former MP J.P. Aggarwal. The AAP has fielded Pankaj Gupta from this seat. While Dr Harshvardhan is said to have been in constant touch with his voters during the past five years, Mr Aggarwal enjoys strong clout among the trader community.
Interestingly, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal have not been named from the Chandni Chowk seat from which he has been fighting since 2004. Mr Sibal had said last month that he will “certainly contest” from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk seat in the Lok Sabha, irrespective of whether there is an alliance between his party and AAP. The West Delhi seat is all set to witness a direct fight between former chief minister Saheb Singh Verma’s son Parvesh and former Congress MP Mahabal Mishra. The AAP has fielded Balbir Singh Jakhar from this seat.
The Congress is yet to announce its candidates for the prestigious South Delhi seat. While the BJP has fielded Gujjar leader and its sitting MP Ramesh Bhiduri, AAP has fielded its well-known face Raghav Chadha from the seat. While Congress has fielded Ms Dikshit’s trusted lieutenant Rajesh Lilothia, AAP has given ticket to Gugan Singh Ranga from the West Delhi seat. The BJP has given ticket to Punjabi singer Hansraj Hans thus evoking protests from sitting MP Udit Raj.