New Delhi: Ending months of speculation over a possible tie-up with AAP, the Congress Monday announced the names of candidates for all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, fielding three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit from North-East Delhi, former Union minister Ajay Maken from New Delhi and Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh from South Delhi.
The party also fielded J P Agarwal from Chandni Chowk, Arvinder Singh Lovely from East Delhi, Rajesh Lilothia from North-West Delhi and Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi. The 81-year-old Dikshit, who took over from Maken as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief earlier this year, was last a Member of Parliament from 1984-89 from Kannauj. She was the chief minister of Delhi for three terms between 1998 and 2013.
She had contested from East Delhi constituency in 1998, but lost. Diskhit had not entered electoral fray since she lost to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the 2013 Assembly polls. Dikshit will take on BJP’s sitting MP Manoj Tiwari and Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Dilip Pandey. “We will begin campaigning soon by highlighting achievements of Congress governments in Delhi as well as at the Centre,” Dikshit told reporters after her name was declared as a candidate from North East Delhi.
She also said her party was prepared to face the challenge of a triangular contest in Delhi. In an interesting move, the party has fielded Vijender Singh, who won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as its candidate from the South Delhi constituency where he will be up against BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri and AAP’s Raghav Chadha. “In more than 20 yrs of my career in boxing I have always made my country proud in the ring. Now it’s time to do something for my countrymen & serve them,” Vijender Singh tweeted.
He thanked the Congress, party chief Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for entrusting him with this “responsibility”. Sources said the party is confident that Singh will be able to garner massive support in the constituency, which has a large number of Jat and Gurjar voters. Significantly, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has not been named from the Chandni Chowk seat from which he has been fighting since 2004. After two terms, Sibal had lost to Harsh Vardhan, now a Union minister, in 2014.
Sibal had said last month that he will “certainly contest” from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk seat in the Lok Sabha, irrespective of whether there is an alliance between his party and AAP. The party has fielded Agarwal, a five-time MP, from Chandni Chowk who will take on Vardhan of the BJP and Pankaj Gupta of the AAP. Another interesting pick by the Congress is former DCC chief Lovely from East Delhi where he will take on AAP’s Atishi. The BJP on Monday fielded cricketer Gautam Gambhir from the seat.
Lovely has held important portfolios such as a minister in Delhi. He had briefly joined the BJP, but returned to the Congress fold in 2018. This will be Lovely’s first parliamentary polls contest. Former Union minister Maken will be up against BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi and AAP’s Brijesh Goyal. In the 2014 national election, the BJP won all seven seats in Delhi.
Talks for an alliance between the Congress and AAP broke down over AAP’s insistence that the grand old party should agree to share seats in Haryana, Chandigarh and Punjab apart from Delhi. The AAP has already named its seven candidates in the national capital and six of them filed their nominations Monday.
The six candidates who filed their papers are Chandni Chowk candidate Pankaj Gupta, East Delhi candidate Atishi, North West Delhi candidate Gugan Singh, South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha, North East Delhi candidate Dilip Pandey and New Delhi candidate Brijesh Goyal. The Aam Aadmi Party nominee Balbir Singh Jakhar had on Thursday filed his nomination for the West Delhi Lok Sabha Constituency. The BJP on Sunday had fielded its four sitting MPs from Delhi – Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, Manoj Tiwari from North-east Delhi, Parvesh Verma from West Delhi and Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi.