Javadekar, Tiwari released the candidate list. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)
The BJP Friday released a list of 57 candidates for the February 8 Delhi polls, repeating three sitting councillors, including Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta from Rohini. The rest of the 13 candidates will be announced in the coming days.
Four women candidates and 11 from the Scheduled Caste figured in the list of 57. Last year, the party, which won three seats in the 70-member assembly, had fielded eight women candidates.
There are 12 reserved seats where SC/ST candidates have to be fielded.
Tiwari was joined by senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar to announce the party candidates, whose names were finalised at its central election committee meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday night.
There are 27 faces who would be contesting assembly elections on a BJP ticket for the first time, and 30 who have been repeated from the 2015 and 2013 list.
Senior BJP leaders said the reason behind repeating these faces despite last time’s loss is that “these leaders know their constituency well and would be better placed to take on AAP, which has thrown a tough challenge especially with its subsidy model”.
Rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who had joined the BJP, has been fielded from Model Town, and AAP rebel Anil Bajpai will contest from Gandhi Nagar. Sources said Mishra wanted to contest from Karawal Nagar, which eventually went to former MLA Mohan Singh Bisht.
A senior BJP leader said the fact that Karawal Nagar has a sizeable minority population — 50,000 of 3 lakh voters are Muslim — was a factor in not fielding Mishra, who has earned a reputation of a “hardliner”.
Mishra, however, said, “Bisht ji is a senior leader and the party perhaps felt he is better suited for Karawal Nagar. They gave me the responsibility of winning Model Town, which we have not won for years but will this time.” Bisht had lost the 2015 assembly polls by over 44,000 votes to Mishra, who was then in AAP.
Ravi Negi, who got the councillor ticket in 2017 from Vinod Nagar before his nomination was cancelled, will fight against Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.
A senior BJP leader said Negi is a Rajput from Uttarakhand, and Patparganj has roughly 30% population from Uttarakhand.
Councillors given a ticket include standing committee head Jai Prakash from Sadar Bazar, Shikha Rai from Greater Kailash and four others. While the party had earlier said councillors would not be fielded, it made an exception in certain seats where it felt the candidates had a “high chance of winning”.
Senior leaders said Rai got a ticket from GK because she won the ward election with a margin of around 9,000 — among the highest — and the seat has around 20% Punjabi population. She will be up against AAP’s Saurabh Bharadwaj.
The BJP, which has been out of power in the capital since 1998, is banking on the Centre’s decision to regularise unauthorised colonies and its schemes such as Ayushman Bharat to have a fighting chance against the AAP.