SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa (Photo Credit: ANI Image)
What can be termed as major setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday announced that the party will not contest the Delhi polls over their differences with the BJP over amended Citizenship Act. While addressing the media, SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said, "SAD and BJP have an old relationship, but after stand by Sukhbir Badal ji on CAA which was to include people from all religions, BJP leadership wanted us to reconsider this stand. So, we decided to not fight these polls instead of changing our stand."
On the issue of NRC, Sirsha said that his party believes that the National Register of Citizens should not be implemented. The party welcomed CAA but never demanded that any one religion be excluded from this act. “We are also against National Register of Citizens (NRC). We want that there should be no law which makes people stand in queues and prove their credentials. This is a great nation and there is no space for communalism,” Sirsha said.
The BJP on Friday released its first list of 57 candidates for the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls. The party has banked on experience to take on the ruling AAP in the Delhi assembly polls, scheduled for next month. The party has included four former mayors, and many councilors. The names of all three BJP MLAs, including Leader of the Opposition Vijender Gupta, former chief minister Sahib Singh Verma’s brother and former mayor Master Azad Singh, as well as former AAP legislator Kapil Mishra figured in the first list.
The candidature of Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, a sitting MP, has not been announced in the first list of candidates. Releasing the list, Tiwari said Gupta will contest from Rohini seat, Azad Singh from Mundka and Mishra from Model Town as he expressed confidence that the party will end its more than two decades of stint in opposition and come back to power on its “positive” agenda.
The list does not include nomination against AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Tiwari, who was joined by Union minister Prakash Javadekar, party’s poll in-charge for Delhi, said the party will soon name its remaining candidates. The party has fielded Khushi Ram from Ambedkar Nagar, Ravindra Gupta from Matia Mahal and Yogender Chandolia from Karol Bagh, all former mayors. It has also given ticket to its national secretary R P Singh, who will contest from Rajender Nagar.
The list has 11 candidates from scheduled castes for reserved seats, four women nominations and seven from Poorvanchal, a region comprising eastern UP and Bihar. Most of the candidates announced on Friday were also nominated by the BJP in 2013 and 2015 assembly polls. The polls to the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on February 8 and results will be declared on February 11. Tiwari said the names were finalised at BJP’s central election committee meeting on Thursday night.
The ruling AAP has already announced its candidates for all 70 seats. The Congress is yet to announce names of its candidates. The BJP’s list also included six sitting and thirteen former councilors of the three municipal corporations in the national capital. Among several AAP leaders, who have joined the BJP, only two former MLAs have been given tickets by the saffron party, with names like Devender Sehrawat and Guggan Singh missing from the list.
BJP sources said three seats—Kalkaji, Hari Nagar and Rajouri Garden—may be given to its ally Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD). Rajouri Garden seat is currently held by Manjinder Singh Sirsa, an Akali leader who had won on the BJP ticket. Candidates on some seats including Krishna Nagar, New Delhi, Burari, Mehrauli and Kasturba Nagar have not been declared, amid speculations that the party could field sitting MPs in the Assembly polls for better chances of victory.
The BJP had won only three seats in the previous assembly elections, while the AAP had won 67. Delhi is set for another triangular contest between AAP-BJP-Congress. While Kejriwal is relying on populist schemes like free electricity and water besides free ride for women in the government-run buses and efforts to boost education and health infrastructure, the BJP is hoping to reap the benefits of Modi government’s decision to grant ownership rights to people living in unauthorised colonies and planks like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The saffron party has also tried to corner the AAP government over violence during anti-CAA protests in the city.
(With Agency Inputs)