BY NIVEDITA SINGH
New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) The February 8 Delhi Assembly election is not going to be a cake walk for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in some constituencies. While on one hand, the AAP would like to retain seats held by crucial MLAs like Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, on the other, new AAP candidates will have to face sitting MLAs who changed sides.
In the run-up to the Assembly election, the party had dropped 15 of its sitting MLAs, and some of them are now fighting against the ruling party’s new faces.
While seats including New Delhi, Patparganj, Babarpur, Greater Kailash and Najafgarh are important as AAP has again fielded its major contestants — Kejriwal, Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Saurabh Bharadwaj, and Kailash Gahlot respectively — from these, constituencies like Chandni Chowk, Dwarka, Delhi Cantt, Badarpur and Model Town are important as they are being contested by former AAP leaders who are likely to sway the votes in their favour.
The New Delhi and the Patparganj seat are crucial as Chief Minister Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia are contesting from these seats respectively.
Kejriwal is facing Congress’s Romesh Sabharwal and BJP’s Sunil Yadav. The New Delhi Assembly seat had a record of giving the Chief Minister of Delhi and so the seat became crucial for all the three parties.
However, the two names against Kejriwal does not have the same mass appeal like him, although they have played a crucial role in their parties.
A former NSUI head of Delhi, Sabharwal has been away from elections for the past several years. On the other hand,AYadav is a young face is President of the Delhi unit of BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
Kejriwal has bagged the seat twice in 2013 and 2015.
Similarly, Sisodia is being challenged by BJP’s Ravinder Singh Negi and Congress’ Laxman Rawat. While Sisodia has been a household name in Delhi for his reforms in the education sector, the two leaders are new to the constituency.
Babarpur seat is also important for AAP as Cabinet Minister Rai, who is also the AAP Delhi unit chief, is contesting from there.
While Sisodia and Kejriwal are aiming for hat-tricks from their respective seats, Rai is aiming for his second term from the seat. He is facing four time BJP MLA, Naresh Gaur and Congress’ Anveeksha Tripathi Jain. The fight with the four-time MLA is going to be tough as Rai was defeated by Gaur in 2013, when the AAP formed the government for the first time.
The next crucial seat for AAP is the high-profile Greater Kailash constituency from where Bhardwaj seeks a third term. He is up against Shikha Roy of BJP and Sukhbir Singh Pawar of Congress. Bjhardwaj is not just party’s national spokesperson but was also a Cabinet Minister in the 2013 government.
The Najafgarh Assembly constituency, having a population of farmers and traders mainly, has never elected an MLA twice, but the Aam Aadmi Party is betting on its sitting legislator and Cabinet Minister Gahlot for the second term.
Gahlot is facing BJP’s Ajit Kharkhari and Sahib Singh Yadav from the Congress.
While retaining important seats is important for AAP, fighting against its own former MLAs is also a crucial and game changer task for the party.
Alka Lamba had won from Chandni Chowk in 2015 as an AAP candidate. She switched to the Congress in 2019 and was later disqualified from the Delhi Assembly. The Congress has named her from the seat while the AAP is betting upon Parlad Singh Sawhney, who was elected from the seat in the 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013 elections as a Congress MLA but switched over to the AAP last year.
Apart from Lamba, AAP MLA Kapil Mishra became a rebel and joined the BJP. While he was elected from the Karawal Nagar seat in 2015, the BJP has fielded him from the Model Town seat in 2020.
A former AAP Minister, Mishra will take on two-time sitting AAP MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi. While much of Delhi seems to be cheering for the AAP, according to poll trackers, Tripathi is facing anti-incumbency in this seat and his public profile has taken a beating.
He has been accused of taking bribes for getting government jobs. Last year, he was taken into custody for failing to comply with court summons and warrants in a 2013 rioting case.
Similarly, sitting AAP MLAs from Dwarka (Adarsh Shastri), Delhi Cantt (Surinder Singh) and Badarpur (N.D Sharma) are now fighting against the AAP after the party dropped them for the 2020 polls.
While Shastri has switched to the Congress, Singh is now an NCP candidate and Sharma is contesting from the BSP.
Voting will be done in Delhi on February 8 and the results will be out on February 11.
BY NIVEDITA SINGH