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New pitch? Gautam Gambhir among BJP probables

A senior BJP leader said the party leadership was in touch with Gambhir, who might be fielded from the New Delhi seat.

, TNN|
Mar 08, 2019, 11.27 AM IST
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Gautam Gambhir
NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party is learnt to be considering the names of cricketer Gautam Gambhir, a Union minister, a former MP of a rival party and several sitting and ex-MLAs for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. The party, which won all the seven seats in the 2014 general election, wants to counter the anti-incumbency factor against some of its sitting MPs, sources say.

A senior BJP leader said the party leadership was in touch with Gambhir, who might be fielded from the New Delhi seat, currently held by Supreme Court lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi. “Top party leaders have had discussions with him. A decision is likely to be taken soon,” a senior party leader said, requesting anonymity. Gambhir has lately been critical on Twitter of the policies of the Aam Aadmi Party, fuelling speculation that he might jump into the fray. It is not going to be an easy decision because of, among other things, Lekhi’s peformance in Parliament.

Some former municipal councillors have also suggested that the party leadership change a few sitting MPs to counter anti-incumbency. They said that the party adopted this formula in the 2017 municipal elections and replaced all sitting councillors and the strategy worked.

Sources said the party might move Chandni Chowk MP and Union minister Harsh Vardhan to east Delhi and get either Union minister Vijay Goel or Rohini MLA Vijender Gupta to contest from the seat. East Delhi MP Maheish Girri might be moved out of Delhi, a source said. Vardhan had won five assembly elections from Krishna Nagar, which is a segment of the east Delhi parliamentary constituency, before contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Chandni Chowk. Goel has represented Chandni Chowk in Parliament thrice while Gupta had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 election.

Among former MLAs, Mohan Singh Bisht and Ramvir Singh Bidhuri are among frontrunners from North East and South Delhi seats if the party decides to replace the sitting MPs. Delhi BJP general secretary Kuljeet Chahal (East Delhi) is also in fray.

Sources said the party leadership had made a panel of 3-4 probable candidates for each of the seven seats based on feedback received from office-bearers and other functionaries at the organisational level as well as the workers at the grassroot level on the functioning and performance of the sitting MPs.

The Delhi BJP office has so far received about 25 applications from former MPs, MLAs, municipal councillors, leaders of the frontal organisations and former university leaders. Several other leaders had met the senior party leadership to present their case, a source said. The final decision, however, will be taken by the party’s parliamentary board.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said the party was open to applications from aspirants who thought they deserved to get the ticket. “Every leader deserves to contest. There is no harm in seeking the ticket. It helps to have deserving candidates in reserve in case the sitting candidates are shuffled,” Tiwari said.

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