The Delhi assembly polls are around the corner and are due in January-February 2020. After winning from all seven seats during the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year with impressive margins, BJP seems well placed to replace the incumbent Kejriwal government. In a recent interview, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has hinted that the BJP may project a Chief Minister face for the upcoming polls.
The BJP has a problem of plenty and as such seems to be in a position to choose from the following options:
The Rajya Sabha MP, Vijay Goel is one of the most experienced BJP leaders in Delhi. Elected for the first time to Lok Sabha from Delhi Sadar constituency in 1996, he has been an active BJP leader for more than two decades which makes him the most experienced local BJP leader in Delhi. This gives him a certain advantage over the rest of the options for the BJP. Recently, he came into limelight after he launched a stinging attack against Delhi CM Kejriwal over the water bill waiver scheme whereby the Kejriwal government announced that it will waive arrears on water bills. Union Minister Vijay Goel said, “Everyone knows that the elections are approaching in just four months and that’s why he has announced to free rides in metro and buses. Now, with a new scheme to waive arrears on water bills, he wants to buy people’s votes.” Thus, exposing the Kejriwal government’s plans to lure people for electoral gains with assembly polls around the corner.
What goes against him is the fact that he doesn’t seem to share a close bond with the Shah-Modi duo. Moreover, the BJP might want to look towards infusing young blood in Delhi on the lines of Fadnavis in Maharashtra or Biplab Deb in Tripura, which might go against the Union Minister’s candidature for the top post.
Another out and out local leader for the BJP. The cricketer-turned-politician made a fabulous debut to his political career earlier this year as he got elected to the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency by defeating Congress candidate, Arvinder Singh Lovely with an encouraging margin of 1.71 lakh votes. Being a star cricketer, he is a youth icon and enjoys tremendous popularity among Delhi’s youngsters. The 38-year old also has age on his side. What matches perfectly with his young, energetic image is his outspoken and bold attitude. His statements also bring to the fore how highly he values nationalism and that can be another factor which will appeal to the voters’ conscious if he is made the CM candidate.
The only issue with the cricketer-turned-politician is that he might be seen as somebody new to the Delhi BJP. Kiran Bedi’s candidature during the previous Delhi Assembly polls is an example of how the local cadres might not be able to reconcile with the idea of a new face being made the CM candidate.
He could well be the front-runner for the top post given the kind of respect and popularity that he enjoys. He has served as a Union Minister in several portfolios. Currently, he is handling important portfolios of Health and Family Welfare, Earth Sciences and Science and Technology. This shows the kind of comfortable equation that he enjoys with the central leadership. He won the recent Lok Sabha polls from the Chandni Chowk constituency with a massive margin of 2,28,145 votes. This is enough to show the kind of ground base he enjoys in Delhi. When it comes to Delhi, Harsh Vardhan is one of the very well known faces and his impressive track record as the Union Science and Technology Minister also proves his administrative capabilities.
The only thing that goes against Harsh Vardhan too is that in case the BJP makes up its mind to go with a young face, Harsh Vardhan might be at a disadvantage.
He was made the Delhi BJP unit chief in 2016 and has held the post for nearly the past three years. This can be taken as an indication of the BJP grooming him for a top leadership role and it won’t come as a surprise if he is made the Delhi CM candidate by the BJP. He led the Delhi unit into the Lok Sabha polls and brought really impressive results for the party. He is a Purvanchali icon and a renowned Bhojpuri artist, that gives him an edge given the role that the voters hailing from the Purvanchal region play in Delhi elections.
However, the Punjabis are yet another crucial community when it comes to Delhi’s electoral equations. Tiwari’s candidature and any attempt to use his background for appealing to the Purvanchali voter base might end up alienating the Punjabis. BJP has traditionally enjoyed the electoral support of the community and any departure therein might adversely impact BJP’s poll campaign.
She is the only probable woman candidate for the top post. She has exhibited brilliant oratory skills in the past, which works in her favour. The 52-year old leader is also the national spokesperson of the BJP. Before the Lok Sabha polls, she was instrumental in cornering Rahul Gandhi over his Rafale lies and the objectionable ‘chowkidar chor hai’ remark, which the Congress President was resorting to. She had filed a contempt plea that exposed how the then Congress chief had misused the dismissal of preliminary objections raised in the apex court by the government against review petitions over the Rafale deal. This proves her sharp acumen and the capability to deal with the vicious propaganda of the opposition. She shares a good rapport with the central leadership that further boosts her candidature.
The BJP has a problem of plenty even as the Delhi assembly polls approach closer.