Pravesh Verma, son of former Delhi Chief Minister, the late Sahib Singh Verma, leads the race for the post of Delhi BJP president.
Pravesh had won the West Delhi constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by defeating his nearest rival Jarnail Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress stalwart Mahabal Mishra. In the 2013 Assembly elections, he had defeated the then Speaker and senior Congress leader Yoganand Shastri.
A big section within the party wants Satish Upadhyay, the current Delhi BJP president, removed as the party, under his leadership, suffered a massive defeat in the hands of the AAP in February last year, though his supporters claim it was the Central leadership’s “wrong decision” to make Kiran Bedi the chief ministerial candidate at the last moment, which cost the party dear. “Though no formal decision has been taken, there are chances that Pravesh will be picked for the job,” a BJP leader said.
BJP’s organisational elections have not been completed so far despite the Central leadership’s efforts to get it done before Amit Shah’s re-election as the party’s national president on Sunday. If it is not done before that, the elections for the Delhi unit may be held in the next two weeks.
Pravesh belongs to the Jat community and by making him the president, the party leadership wants to bring the Jats into the BJP fold.
For the past 14 years, the Delhi unit has been headed by either a Punjabi or a Vaishya leader, with Upadhyay being an exception.
Sources, however, said Upadhyay, too, is pushing his own candidature for a re-election.
Besides Verma and Upadhyay, the other names doing the rounds are that of Ashish Sood, Pawan Sharma, Vijay Goel and Maheish Girri.
There is also a section in the party which is pushing Vijender Gupta’s name. Gupta has been the Delhi president in the past and is currently gthe Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. He is one of the three BJP candidates who got elected in last year’s historic Assembly elections which saw the AAP sweeping 67 out of Delhi’s 70 seats.
Upadhyay took charge of the state party unit in mid-2014 after the then president, Harsh Vardhan got elected to the Lok Sabha and was subsequently made a Union Minister.