Former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir, Olympic bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh and Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans were among prominent names from the Congress and the BJP who filed their nominations on Tuesday, joining nearly 350 candidates in the fray for the May 12 Lok Sabha polls in the national capital.
Contesting the parliamentary polls after more than two decades, the Congress old-timer and three-time chief minister Dikshit, who filed her nomination from North-East Delhi, will take on BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and AAP’s Dilip Pandey in a triangular contest, reflective of the overall poll scenario in seven seats in the national capital.
Apart from Dikshit, all other Congress candidates –former Delhi minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, former Delhi party chief J P Agarwal, former Union minister Ajay Maken, Delhi Congress working president Rajesh Lilothia and former MP Mahabal Mishra also filed their papers on Tuesday, the last day of nominations for Delhi.
From BJP, sitting MP from South Delhi Ramesh Bidhuri and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi filed their nominations apart from Gambhir and Hans. Three of the BJP candidates — Union minister Harsh Vardhan, Parvesh Verma and Tiwari had filed their nominations on Monday from Chandni Chowk, West Delhi and North-East Delhi seats respectively.
Exuding confidence of winning, eighty-year-old Dikshit said she is “emotionally attached” to the constituency. Dikshit had last contested in 1998 from East Delhi seat, which was later bifurcated into East Delhi and North-East Delhi constituencies.
She had lost to BJP”s Lal Bihari Tiwari 1998.
“No seat is small or big and it does not belong to any individual. It belongs to the people of the constituency,” she added.
Many of the candidates took out road shows in the scorching heat in their constituencies before filing their nominations, which were delayed in some cases due to a large number of nominees wanting to file their papers.
BJP’s Vijender Gupta, also Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, said there were many candidates who wanted to file their nominations from the North-West Delhi seat, delaying Hans’ filing of papers.
“His papers were okay and no objection was raised over his nominations papers by the officials,” Gupta added.
Hans, announcement of whose candidature came only hours before the deadline replacing sitting BJP MP Udit Raj, is pitted against former Congress MLA Rajesh Lilothia and former AAP MLA Gugan Singh.
Gambhir, who is taking on Lovely and AAP’s Atishi Marlena from the East Delhi seat, said he is focusing on winning and not on his rival candidates.
“I am beginning an innings of honesty under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I have no competition with other candidates in the fray and I am here to share my vision with people of East Delhi. I am going to the people with a positive agenda,” Gambhir said.
Boxer Vijender Singh, who will take on Raghav Chadha of the AAP and Ramesh Bidhuri of the BJP, said he will focus on issues related to youth and sports.
“I am genuinely concerned about unemployment, which I think is a prominent issue for the youth. And being a sportsperson, I am also keen on working towards developing sports infrastructure,” he said.
When asked by reporters that BJP has ‘dhai kilo ka haath’, in a reference to Bollywood actor Sunny Deol joining the saffron party, Singh showed his biceps, saying “this is what Congress has now”. ‘Dhai kilo ka haath is a famous line from Deol-starrer Hindi movie ‘Damini’.
Two-time MP Mishra, a prominent Purvanchali face, also filed his nomination from West Delhi on Tuesday. He will take on incumbent BJP MP Parvesh Verma and AAP’s Balbir Singh Jakhar.
The New Delhi seat will witness a contest between two-time MP Maken, incumbent Lekhi and political greenhorn Brijesh Goyal of the AAP.
Five-time MP and veteran Congress leader Agarwal will take on Vardhan and AAP’s Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk, a seat dominated by the trader community.
Unlike the Aam Aadmi Party, who had declared their candidates well in advance, both the Congress and the BJP announced its list at the last minute, resulting in filing of nominations by their candidates on the last day.
Nearly 350 candidates have filed nominations from the national capital during last eight days since the starting of the process on April 16.
Till Monday, as many as 185 candidates had filed nominations and an additional 164 filed their papers on Tuesday. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is April 26.
In a show of strength, several candidates took out road shows in their constituencies before filing their nominations.
District Electoral Offices were thronged by party workers with some episodes of heated arguments between supporters of these candidates. One such incident took place between supporters of Gambhir and Lovely.
While the BJP supporters were raising slogans hailing Modi, the Congress workers raised slogans ‘Chowkidar Chor Hain’.
In South Delhi, Bidhuri held a four-kilometers long road show from Chattarpur to South Delhi District Magistrate office at Saket as his supporters and party workers chanted pro-BJP slogans and sporting ‘Mein Bhi Chowkidar’ caps.